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Thursday, 28 October 2010

Facebook Trademark Gets Special Treatment

One of our Sitelinks Extension ads on Google recently got disapproved because we used the trademarked term, "Facebook" in the sitelink.

The exact sitelink extension said "Facebook Advertising" and it linked to a page that was dedicated to advertising services for Facebook.

Now, Google's updated trademark policy states that advertisers can bid on trademarked terms if they satisfy the following conditions:

SITE INCLUDES THE TRADEMARK TERM IN TEXT ON THE LANDING PAGE - The trademark term has to be used as text on the landing page in order to pass. If they don't use the term on the page at all, it won't be approved.
If they only use the term in HTML, it won't be approved. If they include the trademark term only in Flash or other formats, it won't be approved.

The landing page in question is very obviously all about Facebook, and contains the term 'Facebook' in the Title, Meta Description tag, H1 tag, on 4 H2 tags and 10 times within the plain text.

SITE PROMINENTLY FEATURES THE TRADEMARK TERM - By "prominently" featuring the trademark term, we mean the trademarked product/service is the primary focus of the page or has equal focus to other products/services. Sites which will pass need to include the trademark on the page in text AND have a substantial focus on the trademarked product/service on the landing page.

Again, this page is all about Facebook. It has the term in the Title, H1 and all H2 tags. The images are from Facebook and the text is all about Facebook.

For review sites, there needs to be 'substantial' information - meaning real and impartial content about the products/services. If your client provides reviews of shoes, their landing page must provide a significant amount of substantive and detailed product information about the trademarked product/service, not just a name and a price, or sentence related to the product/service.
Alternatively, for resellers, there needs to be an option to buy the products/services from the landing page. So, if your client sells trademarked product X, but the landing page for their ad doesn't have a visible option to buy trademarked product X, it will likely not be approved. The more prominence the trademarked term has on the landing page, the more likely it is to be approved.

Users can request a quote or call to find out about the Facebook services described on the page.

Obviously, the page in question satisfies all of Google's requirements to allow trademarkterm inclusion in the ad text.

However, the Google editorial team wrote to us saying "I have reviewed the sitelinks in campaign 'AccuraCast' and can see that it contains the trademark 'Facebook'.  I have reviewed our internal trademarks database and can see that this account is not authorised to use the trademark 'Facebook' in its ad texts."

Does that mean that certain trademarks get special attention and cannot be bid on even if they satisfy the requirements placed for all other regular trademarks?

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Google Pushes Users To View Ads On Transactional Queries

The results of the latest eye-tracking study carried out on Google & Yahoo! search results shows some excellent information about how users interact with the search results pages.

Looking at the eye-tracking results on the SERP for a transactional query (e.g. Hotels Granada") one can see that the user have 2 options:

1. View hotels on a map in the organic results
2. Click on the sponsored link results.

Viewing a place page about a single hotel on a map is not what users typically will want when searching to book a hotel.

Their best option therefore becomes clicking on the paid search results.

While Google claim that providing universal search results such as the map or videos and images is good for users, it's obviously very good for Google's revenues too!
in reference to: How user's intention influence behavior in Search Results, DynBiz (view on Google Sidewiki)

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Minority Report-esque Advertising Tested On Humans

Seen Minority Report?
You might remember the billboards that shouted ads out to passers by.

Now, this might turn into a reality!

Companies in Japan are currently testing billboards that can decipher your age and gender and show appropriate ads to you.
in reference to: Japan Tests Billboards That Know Your Age, Gender | AccuraCast Search Daily News (view on Google Sidewiki)

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Analytics - Extremely Useful For YouTube Marketers

If you market your brand or your client's brands on YouTube, it is extremely important to use Google Analytics capabilities provided to Enhanced Channels and Brand Channels.

With Analytics in YouTube, you can get much more information about how viewers interact with and react to your content, thereby allowing you to make much more informed decisions than you would with just YouTube Insights.
in reference to: Google Analytics for Channels : Account Optimization - YouTube Help (view on Google Sidewiki)

Monday, 21 June 2010

Victory Against Facebook's Homophobia!


We got this email from Facebook earlier today:

"Thanks for answering our question. We will review the ad that you sent us in your email. Please note however that there is a difference between the two images. In the one that you forwarded us you can see some clothes on the people, while in the other, cause it only show the top of the bodies, it can imply nudity.

We will approve your image so it can be running, but we cannot guarantee that we will be able to maintain it live if we notice that we start to receive bad feedback from the users. The fact that is only targeting a particular audience is not a reason to approve or disapprove an ad. We want to provide the same service to all the advertisers regardless of which audience they are targeting.

Also some images will be borderline case, and it is more difficult to define which kind of images we can approved and which ones not, compared with the text of the ad.

Please let us know if you have further questiosn.

Looks like they finally relented, in the face of continued pressure against their homophobic advertising editorial policies. Let's see how well this ad fares compared to some of the other ones already running in the same campaign.

These newly approved ads have been running for two days now and are already showing the highest Clickthrough Rate compared to all our other ads within the same account!

So much for Facebook's predictions about the ads being offensive to users!!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Facebook's Homophobia Continues

Since the previous thread about Facebook's homophobic ad policies got too long, we've decided to launch a new post here.

Update 2
We thought we'd just let this lie, as Facebook were being vague and would probably use some lame "we can predict what our users want" defense. However, we came across the ad shown below, on Facebook, and just had to take this issue back up with them.

Yes. It is ok to subject a gay audience to a picture of a shirtless man surrounded buy 4 bikini clad bimbos. However, Facebook's judicious editors can divine (without even airing an ad) that their gay audience will react negatively to a picture of 2 men in shorts!

So now we've replied to Facebook's last message, saying:
"Our ads are targeting ONLY gay users. Keeping that in mind, I find it near impossible to believe that any gay man would send Facebook negative feedback about a picture of a shirtless man or of two men with their arms across each other's shoulders.

That might be the case with your non-gay audience, if Facebook's heterosexual audience is also extremely homophobic.

However, what I find truly unbelievable is that your system would predict that a gay audience would not mind being subjected to the attached ad, which I have seen throughout the day today, showing an equally scantily clad heterosexual man, with FOUR EVEN MORE SCANTILY CLAD women in his arms.

This convinces me that you have never aired an ad such as ours to a GAY audience but just rely on systemic homophobia, homophobia on the part of your editors or homophobia on the part of your largely heterosexual audience.

I can't wait to hear what poor excuses you'll come up with to disprove that this is anything other than blatant homophobia.

PS: Note that all your responses are being shared publicly, so please think twice before providing yet another lie or half-baked response to my query.

This is a serious issue. Homophobic discrimination is illegal and where we stand right now, Facebook has shown little to contradict a definite homophobic trend where it comes to approving ads on the network.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Facebook Advertising Policies Homophobic

We are running ads on Facebook to raise awareness of the Best Gay Ads campaign currently being organised by Pink! AccuraCast. The ads feature some of the popular print advertisements that have been published by big brands targeting LGBT audiences.

Facebook, however, is displaying a surprising level of homophobia, and disapproving a lot of these ads.

The first ad we submitted is shown below:

Facebook disapproved this ad. The reason given was:

"The image of this advert is either irrelevant or inappropriate. As per sections 4 and 5 of Facebook's Advertising Guidelines, the image included with your advert should be directly related to the product/service being advertised. Images may not exploit political, sexual or other sensitive issues for irrelevant commercial agendas.
Additionally, images that are overly explicit or provocative, or that reveal too much skin, are not permitted. Images that may either degrade or idealise any health condition or body type are also not allowed. Additionally, images may not emulate Facebook features or suggest functionality which is not present (e.g. a video play button). If you choose to submit this advert again, please use an an appropriate image that complies with these guidelines."

We wrote to them asking why. Our email said:
"The ad is asking gay users to vote on the best gay ads. The image is taken from one such ad - it's a man with a barcode on his chest. This image does not show gratuitous nudity. It is not any more sexually suggestive than the dozens of other ads on Facebook showing men with their shirts of and advertising exercise routines or 6-pack abs.

I find it especially distasteful of Facebook to disapprove ads more often than not simply on the basis that they're gay themed. (This is not the first time we've had to complain about gay-themed ads beng disapproved for no reason at all.)

If you're going to disapprove every gay-themed ad that comes your way, then you need to update your policy to reflect such a homophobic bias."

To which someone from Facebook Online Sales Operations replied:
"Thanks for writing in. The image of this ad is either irrelevant or inappropriate. Per our Advertising Guidelines, the image on your ad should be relevant and appropriate to the item being advertised. Images that are overly explicit, provocative, or that reveal too much skin are not allowed. Images that may either degrade or idealize any health condition or body type are also not allowed. Additionally, images may not emulate site features or suggest functionality which is not present (e.g. a video play button). If you choose to submit this ad again, please use an appropriate image that adheres to all of Facebook's Advertising Guidelines."

Now if you compare our ad to any of the "Get 6-pack abs" or "Male Waxing" ads that you see on Facebook, ours shows less skin and is definitely just as relevant.

So, we wrote back to Facebook, saying:
"Could you please elaborate how exactly this image is contentious?

The image is from a gay ad, and it directs people to vote on gay ads - hence it is directly relevant.
It is not sexually explicit - it shows just a part of a man's chest. A number of other ads on Facebook show naked torsos with exaggerated 6-pack abs, which should also then be banned along the same set of rules.
The image does not degrade or idealize any health conditions.
It does not suggest wrong functionality.
And it does not emulate site features.

I'm sorry, but I definitely do not understand this decision. All facts point to just a blatant bias against gay ads, whereas the same or even more bare bodied advertising in a non-gay context seems to be allowed."

Facebook's response was downright ridiculous:
"Thanks for checking this question with us. Please note that based in the feedback received from our users these images can be rejected, as we have noticed that in the past many users were complaining about the images. Please note that we don't have any especial guidelines for gay themed ads, we were approving some of yours when we thought that the ads were following our guidelines. 
A similar ad addressed to heterosexual users will be also rejected. We don't have different standards based on the sexual orientation and we want to provide a fair service and support to all of our advertiser, regardless about which audience they are targeting."

The ad never got any airtime. It got held for editorial approval as soon as we submitted it, and got disapproved shortly after. It had a total of 0 impressions. How then did any user get to send Facebook negative feedback on the ad without ever seeing it?

We've now replied saying:
"According to your response, the images were rejected due to feedback received from your users.

How exactly did any user provide any feedback on the ads if the ad was not allowed to gain a single impression?

As soon as we submitted the ads, they showed as Pending Review and then they went straight to being disapproved. Not one single Facebook user out of the demographic we've selected for the ad (gay males) has ever seen the image.

The mind boggles as to how your users reject ads they've never even seen?!

I keenly await your response."

A new ad we submitted, which is clipped from an Abercrombie & Fitch print ad, also just got disapproved. See the image below:

Let's see how this turns out!

Facebook replied, saying:
"Thanks for answering our email. Please note that our users provided us information in the past about similar images. Therefore we can know in advance if a specific image will generate good or bad feedback very accurately."

Update 2
This post is getting too long. We are therefore posting an update to this issue in a new post. See it here:
"Facebook's Homophobia Continues"

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

We Heart Google Hearts Pacman

Google's doodle for PAC-MAN's 30th anniversary was cool. We're not the only ones who think so...

Turns out, the Google logo doodle, which actually featured a playable game was such a hit that they've decided to keep it permanently!

It's the little glimpses of brilliance such as this that endear Google to the hearts of everyone.
in reference to: Google (view on Google Sidewiki)

Privacy Matters - Does Eric Schmidt Think We're Stupid?

Google's Eric Schmidt tried to downplay privacy issues after they were caught snooping private Wi-Fi data by the German government.

His defense was that there was "no harm, no foul".


No one usually gets harmed or fouled when telephone lines are tapped. So should that be legal?
No one gets harmed when stalkers passively follow young women everywhere they go. So should that be allowed too?

His defense that no individual was hurt shows an absolute lack of respect for user privacy.

The most alarming fact, though, is that in spite of this admission of guilt, users will continue to use Google for more and more services - on computers, on the desktop and now even on TV!
in reference to: BBC News - Google chief Eric Schmidt downplays wi-fi privacy row (view on Google Sidewiki)

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Interesting Government Data Requests from Google & YouTube

Google's made this pretty-looking tool that shows users which governments are requesting data and which ones ask it to remove URLs, videos, images etc.

Not surprisingly, Brazil leads the pack for remove requests - due largely to all the problems they've had with child pornography on Orkut (http://www.accuracast.com/search-daily-news/multilingual-7471/brazil-threatens-to-shut-down-googlebr-due-to-orkut/)

The most interesting data snippet, though, is one that has no data at all:
"Chinese officials consider censorship demands as state secrets, so we cannot disclose that information at this time"
in reference to: Government requests directed to Google and YouTube (view on Google Sidewiki)

Friday, 2 April 2010

Google Maps Street Views in 3D - Fun!

It seemed to start as an April Fool's Day joke, but has hung around since. Google has actually introduced 3D Street Views on Google Maps.

While this has absolutely zero real use, it has a 100% coolness factor!
in reference to: Google Maps Street View in 3D on Flickr - Photo Sharing! (view on Google Sidewiki)

Friday, 19 March 2010

Allowing Users To Opt Out Of Google Analytics Would Be Monumentally Stupid

Google Analytics has made this rather innocuous post about potentially allowing users to opt out of having their visits tracked, in the interest of preserving their privacy.

First questions first. Will Google themselves completely ignore such data too? Or will they happily use such data themselves [anonymously] and just not share it with the website owners from whose site they got the data in the first place?

Wouldn't it make more sense to still report non-identifying metrics for users that opt out, and where it comes to metrics that might violate privacy just report those as a total of users opted out?

For e.g. Google could still report the exact number of visitors - that doesn't violate anyone's privacy.

But, say, for other metrics such as geo-location, if that is deemed to be invasive of privacy, Google could just report a total number of visitors that opt out and call that value [unknown - opted out], similar to how they do for visitors whose IP address could not be reverse looked up.
in reference to: Google Analytics Blog: More choice for users: browser-based opt-out for Google Analytics on the way (view on Google Sidewiki)

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Excellent Tool from Google: Create Your Own Sidewiki Page Owner Entry

The title says it all. Webmasters no longer need to visit each page on their site, then write a sidewiki entry for it and so on. All of this can now be done via a single Google Webmaster Tools Labs feature
in reference to: Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Fetch as Googlebot Mobile and Claim your Sidewiki comment - added to Webmaster Tools Labs! (view on Google Sidewiki)

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Google Buzz is a Logical Next Step for Email

Some could argue that email was the original digital social medium. And they'd be right.

Google Buzz capitalises on the already social nature of email and turns into into a modern social network where contacts can share photos, videos and news without leaving their email platform.

Now, if only Hotmail, Yahoo! and MS Outlook could just copy Google's idea and implement it in the email systems that real businesses and regular (non-techie) people use, this could be a real social network revolution - one that could potentially threaten Facebook's dominance.
in reference to: Official Google Blog: Introducing Google Buzz (view on Google Sidewiki)

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Sphinn, a.k.a. The SEM Elitist Network

Sphinn, like many other services begun by search marketers tends to be an elitist site filled with cliques and fanboys/girls who only vote on each others' stories.

The result is a site full of "news" and "discussion" that is merely a repeat of "news" and "discussion" from a handful of SEM loudmouths' websites.

Does anyone actually read the content on this site, or is it just another link propogation venue?
in reference to: Sphinn / Hot Topics (view on Google Sidewiki)

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Google Should Never Have Agreed To Censor SERPs In China In The First Place

When Google first launched in China in a big way, they agreed to accept some of the Chinese governments demands, and censored certain search results. Google drew a lot of flack for their decision back then.

Now, when their own datacentres have been attacked, Google's decided to stop censoring their search results on Google.cn.

Some might praise Google for making a tough business decision to uphold their morals.

Others will most likely see this for what it is - empty threats in order to gain press attention and gain some powerful allies before talking with the Chinese government about their policies.

Given the size of the Chinese market, Google cannot really afford to pull out of that market completely - their shareholders won't take to such a potential loss in revenue kindly.

China too can't publicly justify the actions of the hackers, whether they were backed by the government or not.

Some middle ground will therefore have to be reached.

The only question that remains, though, is why did Google not "Do No Evil" in the first place, and why did it take getting their own resources hacked for them to grow a spine?

in reference to: Official Google Blog: A new approach to China (view on Google Sidewiki)