Digital Marketing News Round Up: Google Pulls Ads, Introduces Multinational Annotation, Mobile Bid Adjustment and Eyes Up WhatsApp

Google AdWords is prominent in this week’s digital marketing news after fell foul of payday loan guidelines and the search giant introduced finer control over its mobile bid adjustment. This round up also brings good news to anyone working on a multinational or multilingual website as well as those seeing unexpected 404 pages in Google Webmaster Tools.

Moneysupermarket ads pulled by Google

Google has been pressured by the government to be more thorough with its regulation of payday loan companies who have been abusing Google AdWords.

At the beginning of the year Google reiterated to its AdWords users that anyone advertising payday loans must be completely clear on any penalties or fees its customers may incur if they don’t make payments on time and any advertisers who carried on flouting the rules would be punished. The advertisements were pulled on the evening of Saturday 6 April, but issues were quickly rectified and their ads were back up 24 hours later. A spokesperson said:

Our payday loans listing page has plain information for customers to make an informed choice, including what such loans cost and illustrative examples. We include a clear warning at the top of the page. Google suspended MoneySupermarket PPC [pay per click] ads for 24 hours but gave no warning. After several discussions, this service is now back on.

Google introduces new “x-default hreflang” annotation for multinational and multilingual sites

Google have released details on a new annotation which allows webmasters, who own multinational and multilingual sites, to specify when a page doesn’t target any specific language or location.

The tag helps Google to understand multinational or multilingual sites which redirect or change their pages content for their users. Google gives the following example to help explain:

  • – For English-speaking users in the UK
  • – For English-speaking users in the USA
  • – For English-speaking users in Australia
  • – The homepage shows users a country selector and is the default page for users worldwide

In this case, the webmaster can annotate this cluster of pages using rel-alternate-hreflang using Sitemaps or using HTML link tags like this:

<link rel="alternate" href="" hreflang="en-gb" />

<link rel="alternate" href="" hreflang="en-us" />

<link rel="alternate" href="" hreflang="en-au" />

<link rel="alternate" href="" hreflang="x-default" />

Coming soon to AdWords Enhanced Campaigns – mobile bid adjustment at ad group level

Enhanced campaigns functionality has been evolving rapidly and more control will be handed to AdWords users in May with the ability to set mobile bid adjustment at ad group level.

Coming in mid-May, the additional functionality should be useful to those of you who run large campaigns and find that your optimal bids for some keywords need considerably different mobile bid adjustments within an enhanced campaign.

Starting from 22 July, all AdWords campaigns will begin to be automatically upgraded to enhanced campaigns.

Google buying WhatsApp for $1billion?

The popular cross platform messaging application is on Google’s hit list, but the team behind WhatsApp are holding out for a sum close to $1billion.

If Google were to purchase the app it would be a great way of unifying their messaging services (Google Voice, Google Hangouts, Google Talk, etc.) and would put them in better stead to compete with Facebook.

WhatsApp is currently very popular amongst smartphone users as it allows them to communicate across Android, BlackBerry, Windows and iPhones within (often substantial) data allowances, rather than using up their calls and texts.

Old 404 pages still in Webmaster Tools? Don’t worry about it!

Webmasters are often confused by Google Webmaster Tools’ habit of continuously showing old 404 pages when these pages are no longer linked to or 404ed. Speaking in the Webmaster help forum. Google’s John Mueller says: “This isn't something that you really need to worry about”. Mueller cites Google ample memory as the cause of the phenomenon: Google prefers to be absolutely sure that a 404ed URL is down, so it will continue to retry the pages over and over.