Businesses of all shapes and sizes are slowly coming round to online marketing and its benefits.
However, since the beginning of the global recession in 2008 the need to justify every penny spent on marketing has become more and more important as businesses try to claw back profit margins and reduce overheads.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) has for many businesses become one of the main focuses of their online marketing strategy.
Businesses are now investing tens of thousands of pounds into the industry every year, pushing the need for better analytical tools and more insight into ROI.
But how much do you really know about your search marketing campaigns?
Last year, Google launched a new initiative designed to help small and medium-sized businesses pay for their AdWords campaigns.
The AdWords Business Credit credit card has since been adopted by 1,400 companies in the United States and, according to Google, 74% of them now say they use the Google credit card as their primary form of payment for AdWords spend.
I recently took the team to a ‘Learn with Google’ event at Google’s HQ to find out about the latest developments coming up on Adwords that we’ll be able to test (in the UK) soon.
There are few new PPC ad formats to look forward to....
For example, if you’re a retailer, you can link your inventory data to AdWords, to change bidding on a campaign, or stop/start keywords as items go out of stock. Or you can automatically change keywords or bidding on AdWords, based on data trends.
You can pretty much do anything you want, in fact. We've created a sample script to set up an alert on an AdWords campaign, which we're happy to share.
Google may be online advertising's 800 pound gorilla, but using its digital dominance to push into traditional advertising markets has proven to be a real challenge.
In 2006, for instance, Google began trials of a platform designed to help advertisers more efficiently purchase ad inventory in newspapers.
In 2009, the search giant killed the offering. Ditto for a similar platform created to move radio ad inventory.
So perhaps it won't come as a surprise that Google has decided to throw in the towel on Google TV Ads, an extension to AdWords that made it possible for advertisers to "bring digital buying and measurement technologies to traditional TV advertising."
While Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has always publicly reiterated that he's focused on his social network's long term success and not short-term profit, with his company's shares down 50% since its disastrous IPO, there are reports that the twenty-something billionaire is waking up to the harsh realities of running a publicly-traded company.
With insiders dumping their stocks and billions of FB shares becoming available as employee lock-up periods end, one thing is clear: if Facebook doesn't show Wall Street something in the short-term, the world's largest social network could have big, big problems.
About a month ago, Adwords announced to us that it was changing the behaviour of exact and phrase match to match close variants, including misspellings, singular/plural forms, stemmings, accents and abbreviations.
The changes, due sometime in mid-May, have been sold as a positive change for users, creating a behaviour similar to that already employed for organic search. Google hopes advertisers too will like the changes, as it will help them avoid missing out on relevant traffic.
The reaction amongst advertisers has been mixed however, with some suggesting that the changes serve only to increase revenue by reducing advertiser control.
Google has offered an opt out in the interface for advertisers who don't wish to take advantage of the changes.
Our own analysis indicates that this may not have yet taken place (search query reports are usually a couple of days behind), meaning that if you haven't considered the impact of these changes yet, it could be your last chance.
Facebook's Friday IPO may have been cause for celebration on the company's Menlo Park campus, but it was hardly the coming out party major players on Wall Street had hoped it would be.
Beset by technical glitches at the NASDAQ and perhaps more skepticism from the market than anticipated, Facebook's shares failed to 'pop' as many expected.
The company's underwriters were forced to step in to keep Facebook's shares from falling below the $38 offering price.
This month Google has announced another change to Google Adwords - the addition of a Display Network tab which will consolidate all display reporting and targeting in one place.
I've come to the conclusion that this is to increase the use of Google's display network by making it easier to use, to keep up with competition and, of course, to make more money.
Display network advertising through Google has seen a lot of improvements over the last year and they have been pushing it almost as much as their search advertising.
However, it has always been harder to grasp and easier to make mistakes on than the search network. Hopefully this update will help users be able to manage campaigns more easily so people can get better results for their websites.
I'm going to tell you a story. A story about a metric in AdWords that people trusted.
People grew to love this metric, they told their bosses how it was doing, they made changes to their campaigns based on it, and they judged their performance on whether it went up or down.
But those people didn't see below the surface. Lurking under the superficially obvious meaning of the metric was a hidden dark truth: the metric wasn't just pointless, it was lying to them.
That metric is Average Position, and I'm sure quite a few of you are guilty (if unintentionally) of taking it at face value.