Give mobile users what they want: clearer, simpler, faster sites

(Cross posted to the Google Mobile Ads Blog)

Earlier this week we shared how today's consumers expect more -- much more -- from mobile sites. They told us so in our recent research survey, What Users Want Most From Mobile Sites Today.

Today we'll share more results, with some great examples of businesses giving mobile users what they want. Whether you're a Fortune 500 company or the pizza shop down on the corner, creating a mobile-friendly site is a critical step: 67% of mobile users say that they’re more likely to buy a product or service from a mobile-friendly site, and 74% say they’re more likely to return to that site in the future.

How are smart companies making mobile sites work for them?  

Less is more: ProFlowers
For their new mobile site, the flower retailer ProFlowers simplified things by highlighting the most popular bouquets to reduce scrolling, by trimming text, and by cutting checkout steps. How well has it worked? “Since becoming mobile-friendly, we’ve seen our mobile conversion rate jump by 20–30%," says Leif Heikkila, the company's senior director of online marketing. Download the case study.

Bigger is better:
FragranceNet sells perfumes and colognes, yes, but also face creams, shampoos, eyeliner and more. For Michael Nadboy, the company's VP of online marketing and strategic development, the trick to mobile success was to show bigger product images and buttons, larger font sizes, and fewer images overall. Mobile users loved it: FragranceNet boosted mobile sales by 48% in just four months. Download the case study.

Speed sells: TicketNetwork
Rock concerts, Broadway shows, NASCAR races: TicketNetwork’s mobile site helps on-the-go fans find tickets for them all. The company redesigned its mobile site with speed in mind, stripping away all non-essential content and graphics. They also trimmed steps from the checkout process to help mobile users buy fast. Four months after introducing the new mobile site, web traffic from mobile devices was up 120% and overall sales from mobile had grown by 184%. Download the case study.

You can see the keys to mobile site success: big buttons and text, less content, fewer steps to checkout, and a focus on speed.

What kind of mobile content is most important? The users we surveyed listed "Get directions”, “Find operating hours" and “Click to call the business” as some of their most-wanted mobile tasks. They also showed clear differences in mobile usage by business category. For instance:

Mobile Banking and Finance customers are most interested in checking account balances, transferring money and paying bills.

Mobile Travel customers are most interested in checking flight status and confirming reservations.

Mobile Retail customers like to contact a store and find product information.

Mobile Automotive customers are most interested in contacting the dealership and making service appointments.

The bottom line: mobile users are ready to make choices on the go. Help them get there fast and you'll help your business grow.

We reviewed these findings yesterday during our webinar: Mobilize your Site and Maximize your Advertising. If you missed it, please keep an eye out for the recorded webinar, which we'll post soon.

In the meantime, check out for more tips on how to build a mobile-friendly website.

Posted by: Masha Fisch, Google Mobile Ads Marketing

Mobile-friendly sites turn visitors into customers

(Cross posted to the Google Mobile Ads Blog

In this world of constant connectivity, consumers expect to find the information that they want, when they want it - especially when they’re on the go. We know that this applies to their web browsing experiences on mobile, so we took a deeper look at users’ expectations and reactions towards their site experiences on mobile. Most interestingly, 61% of people said that they’d quickly move onto another site if they didn’t find what they were looking for right away on a mobile site. The bottom line: Without a mobile-friendly site you’ll be driving users to your competition. In fact, 67% of users are more likely to buy from a mobile-friendly site, so if that site’s not yours, you’ll be missing out in a big way.
Discover these and more findings from, What Users Want Most From Mobile Sites Today, a study from Google (conducted by Sterling Research and SmithGeiger, independent market research firms). The report surveyed 1,088 US adult smartphone Internet users in July 2012.

The problem (and opportunity) is big...
While nearly 75% of users prefer a mobile-friendly site, 96% of consumers say they’ve encountered sites that were clearly not designed for mobile devices. This is both a big problem and a big opportunity for companies seeking to engage with mobile users.

Mobile-friendly sites turn users into customers
The fastest path to mobile customers is through a mobile-friendly site. If your site offers a great mobile experience, users are more likely to make a purchase.
  • When they visited a mobile-friendly site, 74% of people say they’re more likely to return to that site in the future
  • 67% of mobile users say that when they visit a mobile-friendly site, they’re more likely to buy a site’s product or service
Not having a mobile-friendly site helps your competitors
A great mobile site experience is becoming increasingly important, and users will keep looking for a mobile-friendly site until they find one that works for them. That means your competitors will benefit if your site falls down on the job (and vice versa).
  • 61% of users said that if they didn’t find what they were looking for right away on a mobile site, they’d quickly move on to another site
  • 79% of people who don’t like what they find on one site will go back and search for another site
  • 50% of people said that even if they like a business, they will use them less often if the website isn't mobile-friendly
Non-mobile friendly sites can hurt a company’s reputation
It turns out that you can lose more than the sale with a bad mobile experience. A site that’s not designed for mobile can leave users feeling downright frustrated, and these negative reactions translate directly to the brands themselves.
  • 48% of users say they feel frustrated and annoyed when they get to a site that’s not mobile-friendly
  • 36% said they felt like they’ve wasted their time by visiting those sites
  • 52% of users said that a bad mobile experience made them less likely to engage with a company
  • 48% said that if a site didn’t work well on their smartphones, it made them feel like the company didn’t care about their business
While the research confirms what we already suspected -- that mobile users actively seek out and prefer to engage with mobile-friendly sites -- it’s a sobering reminder of just how quickly and deeply users attitudes about companies can be shaped by mobile site experiences. Having a great mobile site is no longer just about making a few more sales. It’s become a critical component of building strong brands, nurturing lasting customer relationships, and making mobile work for you.

To learn more about our study
  • Click here and join our free webinar on September 26 at 1 p.m. EST  / 10 a.m. PST
  • Get help on building a mobile-friendly site, visit
Posted by: Masha Fisch, Google Mobile Ads Marketing

Ad blocking part II: Blocking unwanted ads

Happy Friday and welcome to the second installment of the ad blocking series! In our first blog post, we talked about different reasons for blocking ads and common myths about ad blocking. Today we’ll discuss how to block ads you don’t want to allow on your site. Once you’ve identified the ads you don’t want to show, there are a few ways to block them: by advertiser URL, general or sensitive category (limited language availability), ad network, and individual ad creative. Below, we’ll bust more myths commonly believed about blocking unwanted ads.

Myth: The ‘Allow and block ads’ tab of my account is the only place I can block ads.
In addition to blocking ads via the AdSense interface, you can install the Google Publisher Toolbar to block ads while viewing your pages in a Chrome browser. The Publisher Toolbar is a Chrome extension that lets you view up-to-date information about your AdSense account, offers an overview of your earnings and performance, and provides ad overlays with in-page reporting. For more details on this new Chrome extension, visit the Inside AdSense blog post.

Myth: Because the ad is an image or rich media, there’s no way to find the destination URL without clicking the ad and violating AdSense policy.
As a publisher, you have a few options when trying to find out which URL you want to block:

  • If you’re using Chrome, install the Publisher Toolbar extension mentioned above, which allows you to block ads as you’re seeing them on your site. 
  • In your AdSense account, you can opt into the Ad Review Center where you can see all of the ads shown on your site, including text, image, and rich media ads. 

Myth: I don’t see any ads in the Shown Ads tab of the Ad Review Center, but I see ads on my site. The Ad Review Center doesn’t work! 
The Ad Review Center is a tool that allows you to review individual ads and choose whether or not to let them be displayed on your pages. Ads in the Ad Review Center have shown within the last 30 days. If your site has not shown any ads within the last 30 days, no ads will show in the Ad Review Center. Also, if you have very low traffic on your site, you may not see ads in the Ad Review Center. After you’ve submitted the request to opt in to the Ad Review Center, please allow 24 to 48 hours for ads to begin showing under the Shown Ads tab. Read more information about the new and improved Ad Review Center in our previous Inside AdSense blog post.

We hope that this blog post has busted some of the myths associated with the ad blocking feature. Have more questions? You can submit them by commenting on the post on the Google AdSense +page. We’ll be answering those questions in a Google+ Hangout on Air on Tuesday, August 7th at 10am PDT. We hope you can join us!

Posted by: Wesley Houser, Inside AdSense Team

Ad blocking part I: To block or not to block?

Think of your website as your kingdom. You’re in control of what will be shown. AdSense provides strong controls that enable you to allow and block ads on your website. Ad blocking shouldn’t be thought of as a means of account optimization, but as a way to make sure you’re satisfied with the ads that are shown. Over the next few days, we’ll be busting some of the most common myths associated with ad blocking that we’ve heard from publishers.

Myth: It doesn’t matter how many ads I block, they’ll just be removed from my site.

Ad blocking should be used sparingly. Displaying all ads creates the most competitive atmosphere in the ad auction, with the largest amount of ad inventory possible competing for an impression on your site.

That said, there are some good reasons for blocking ads:
  • You’re sensitive to the content of a particular ad (or category of ad) and would prefer it not to show on your site (e.g., politics, sexuality, or religion).
  • You want to block ads from a particular company because you already have a direct advertising deal from them.
  • You want to block ads from a competitor of your business.
Myth: If I block low paying ads I'll make more money.
Even if a particular ad is only contributing a small portion to your revenue, blocking it will likely cause a lower revenue-generating ad to show. We'll always display the highest-paying ad, so if an ad appeared on your site, it meant that it was the highest-performing ad of all available.

Myth: I blocked some ads for a few days and my earnings went up. This means blocking helped my earnings grow!
Earnings in your AdSense account can constantly fluctuate. Your revenue depends on a number of variables from traffic changes on your site to advertisers changing their bids. Be careful when assuming that correlation indicates causation!

As mentioned in this Help Center article, we target ads based on your content and audience. The ads that you see aren’t necessarily the same ones your users see (e.g., interest-based advertising and geotargeting). Also, ads that may seem off-topic to you as a publisher might actually be the most valuable to the user in that browsing session.

Myth: If I block enough ads, I can essentially pick the ads that will show on my site.
As Hal Varian, the Chief Economist at Google, stated in a previous post, the ads that win in the auction are the ones that are expected to deliver you the most revenue, while ensuring a good user experience. The same ads don’t always appear on your site for a variety of reasons, ranging from changes in advertiser spend to geotargeting of users.

Now that we’ve addressed some common myths, we invite you to join us for a Google+ Hangout On Air focused on ad blocking. It’ll take place on Tuesday, August 7th at 10am PDT, and you’ll have the opportunity to learn more about ad blocking and hear answers to your related questions. To submit a question about ad blocking, simply leave a comment on the post on our AdSense +page. We also encourage you to +1 questions posted by other publishers that you’re interested in hearing the answers to.

Stay tuned for part II of our ad blocking series on Friday!

Posted by: Wesley Houser, Inside AdSense Team

New industry metrics to help publishers make the most from the web

Over 2 million AdSense publishers like you create the unique and diverse content that we all love - whether it’s finding reviews for a new restaurant, or do-it-yourself furniture makeovers. Online advertising helps fuel this creativity, and we’ve been improving our products to help you make the most of every opportunity - from making it easier to earn revenue from the mobile web, or welcoming Indonesian publishers to the AdSense community.  One of the ways we can continue to support you is by giving access to new sources of industry knowledge to enable you to make the most from display advertising. With this is mind, today we’re introducing a new report, “Display Business Trends: Publisher Edition”.

What’s inside for AdSense publishers? Well for starters, there are answers to questions like:
  • Which ad sizes are rising in popularity? You control the ad experience on your site by choosing ad sizes that fit the design of your pages. But with such a flexible selection, which ad sizes should you pick? We found that 80% of all ads served tend to be the three best performing ad units for AdSense publishers: the medium rectangle, leaderboard, and skyscraper. We’re also seeing fewer publishers use smaller ad units, like the 468x60 banner.
  • Is the mobile web really a big deal? We think so! We saw a 250% increase in mobile web impressions over the last three months of 2011. Growth in mobile usage has exploded, and there’s never been a better time for your site to go mobile. Check out resources for publishers on our GoMo site and Mobile Mondays blogposts.
  • Which sites are showing strong impression growth? In 2011, we found that Shopping, Sports, and Auto & Vehicle sites were some of the fastest year-on-year growth verticals on the Ad Exchange and AdSense. We saw impressive figures across the board, with 15 out of 25 publisher verticals displaying double-digit growth.
  • Where in the world are you? All over, as it turns out. Of a possible estimated 245 different countries and territories, we saw publisher ad impressions from 235 of them. These included the island country of Palau - one of the world’s newest sovereign states - and the middle-African nation of Equatorial Guinea, with astounding growth rates of 1106% and 4635% respectively. And while the United States still accounts for the highest percentage of impressions overall, we’re seeing a significant representation from China and Japan, coming in at 11% and 6% respectively.

The Publisher Edition will be the first in a series of publications looking at aggregated global data from across Google’s display advertising solutions, so stay tuned for more industry metrics to come. In the meantime, join the conversation and tell us what you think is behind these trends on our AdSense +Page.

Posted by Mel Ann Chan, Product Marketing Manager, Display Advertising

AdSense Facts & Fictions Part VI: User-Generated Content

Fiction: I shouldn’t be held responsible if users post content on my site or network that violates AdSense policies.

Fact: You are responsible for ensuring that all of your content, including user-generated content such as forum posts, blog comments or outside feeds, is in compliance with AdSense policies on any page or site for which you’ve enabled AdSense ads.

As we’ve discussed in previous posts in this series, we regularly review the content in the AdSense network to ensure that it's safe for advertisers, users, and publishers, as network quality is of premium importance. Just as you, our publishers, expect us to do all we can to remove undesirable ads, our advertisers expect high standards to be maintained; for example, a company using AdWords to market baby clothes doesn’t want their ads to appear next to violent or mature content. In order to be transparent about what kinds of content violate our policies, we’ve published a complete list in our Help Center.

Making sure content complies with our policies can be complex when factoring in user-generated content. Keeping tabs on the hundreds (or even thousands!) of videos, blog posts, photos, tweets, and comments that can come in every day is a massive undertaking. However, you are ultimately responsible for all sites on which you have placed your ad code, regardless of whether you own or have produced the content. This blog post provides a few suggestions to help you prevent and monitor potential content violations.

In most cases, our first step after a policy violation is found is to issue a policy notification for the site. Exceptions include DMCA and egregious policy violations, more details here. After the initial notification, you need to take action, not simply respond to the warning, but implement solutions to proactively ensure that violating content is removed and new content added to the network or site complies with our policies.

We understand that it can take time to find the best solution to prevent problematic content from appearing on your site and we want to work with you to give you the time needed to find a fix. If it becomes evident that a publisher is unable to do so, or if the violation is continuing or egregious, then we will disable an account. We offer an appeals process, but the bottom line is, we can’t partner with publishers that pose a risk to our advertisers (just as we won’t partner with advertisers that could compromise you).

We know how hard you work to make sure that your sites are of the highest quality and free of adult content, unoriginal content, or anything else that may violate policies and we thank you for your efforts. When advertisers, publishers, and users know they can trust the integrity of our advertising environment, everyone wins.

AdSense Facts & Fiction Part V: Unoriginal content

Fiction: Publishers can put ads on auto-generated pages or other copied content that was not created by them.

Fact: We don’t allow sites with auto-generated or otherwise unoriginal content to participate in the AdSense program. This is to ensure that our users are benefiting from a unique online experience and that our advertisers are partnering with useful and relevant sites.

In the past, we’ve talked about tips for maintaining an AdSense-friendly site with user-generated content (UGC). Today's topic is not only applicable to UGC sites, but also to all websites affiliated with AdSense for content.

Sometimes we come across sites that are using software to generate automated content. These sites might look like normal news sites, but the information is completely plagiarized. Scraping content and passing it off as one’s own is not only wrong, but it also happens to be a serious violation of our policies. AdSense depends on maintaining a balance between user, publisher, and advertiser experience. We strive to protect that ecosystem as much as possible by encouraging and protecting unique and relevant content.

Obviously publishers and Google are concerned with revenue generation, and when original traffic encounters quality content, it’s a match made in heaven. The best way to engage users in the long term is to engage users. Provide your opinion on the news, offer a different service, organize your site in a way so that a user is captivated and moved.

Take some time to familiarize yourself with these webmaster quality guidelines, and if you find sites within our network that are clearly violating these guidelines, feel free to report it to us.

One last thing: a quick, but well-deserved thank you to the majority of you that continue to inspire us with your great, unique, and creative content. Keep up the awesome work!

AdSense Facts & Fiction Part IV: Program policies

Fiction: AdSense disables accounts and issues warnings at random.

Fact: We rely upon a detailed set of guidelines when looking at policy violations, and these policies are published in our Help Center. Our intent is to keep Google's content and search networks safe and clean for our advertisers, users and publishers. We seek to be as transparent and consistent with our decision making.

Part of our job of monitoring the AdSense network involves working with publishers to identify and address potential issues. We understand that there are a lot of policies to take into account, and so for minor policy violations our first step will be to issue a warning. The reasons a publisher might receive a warning will vary, but in general they tend to be for violations that can be fixed fairly easily. Examples of these violations range from deceptively labeling ads “Today’s hot deals” to having a minimal amount of adult-content comment spam in a forum. Publishers, after receiving a warning, are given three days to fix their violations. If changes are not made in that time, ad serving will be disabled to the violating site.

There are some situations when we would need to disable ad serving to a site without first sending a warning. We usually reserve this action for egregious violations like adult content, copyright infringement, as well as cases of extreme violence and gore. We may also disable ads to a site when we find a violation that we’ve already contacted a publisher about in the past.

The final and most severe action that our teams can take is to close down an account completely. This normally only happens when we find that a publisher’s entire network consists of violating sites or for repeat policy offenders. If you have received a policy notification from the AdSense team, please visit this help center entry for additional information.

We want to point out that notifications that result from the previously mentioned policy violations are different from notifications sent because of issues with invalid click activity, which are monitored by Google's Ad Traffic Quality Team. Invalid click activity consists of any clicks or impressions that may artificially inflate an advertiser's costs or a publisher's earnings, and for which we decide not to charge the advertiser. For more information about invalid clicks and impressions, please refer to this page, which includes a link to our FAQ page for accounts disabled due to invalid activity.

Lastly, we highly recommend reviewing these guidelines to help avoid policy violations, and to help keep your AdSense account in good standing.

AdSense Facts & Fiction Part III: The stats pipeline

Fiction: Site maintenance periods and delays in my AdSense reports mean that data isn’t being recorded properly.

Fact: Although there can sometimes be delays in the stats pipeline, all data is still tracked accurately.

We call the process of tracking your clicks, impressions, and earnings the “stats pipeline.” The stats pipeline runs continuously, reviewing the logs of activity written by our ad serving system, aggregating them, and updating the storage system. So that we can generate these statistics quickly and reliably, without losing any information, the process of aggregating your statistics spans several data centers.

Sometimes in rare cases, the process for aggregating stats can be delayed for several hours. This can happen for a few possible reasons:
  • We sometimes make updates to our datacenter to make use of the latest technologies. However, these don’t affect how your clicks are tracked or how much you earn. Depending on the time it takes for the updates to complete, you may notice that stats are delayed by several hours.

  • We have scheduled database down-times, generally on Saturday mornings (Pacific Time). Since the process of aggregating your statistics depends on database data, any such downtime also leads to delay in statistics. I’d recommend reading this Inside AdSense post for more information about these downtimes.

  • On rare occasions, data centers can have unforeseen problems, causing unplanned delay in updating statistics.
These downtimes only delay your statistics -- they don’t impact the actual tracking of your statistics. We make sure that all events are processed exactly once, and we have implemented a number of internally and externally audited verification procedures to ensure that this is the case. Also, events in the aggregation pipeline are processed in a way that’s not specific to a particular publisher, so all of you should get your stats updates at the same time.

When downtimes occur, we work to notify publishers in advance and as quickly as possible using this blog, the AdSense Help Forum, and our Known Issues page. We understand how important it is for you to have up-to-date statistics, and continue to work towards making sure that the delays are kept to a minimum.

AdSense Facts & Fiction Part II: Electronic Funds Transfer

Fiction: Google doesn’t support Electronic Funds Transfer in my country because they don’t like me!

Fact: There are many factors we have to consider when launching EFT in new countries. In the meantime, please know that we’re always working towards expanding our payment options for publishers in all regions.

Where we can provide in-country EFT depends on a number of factors. Whenever we launch Electronic Funds Transfer, our fastest payment method, in a new country, we hear a number of requests to launch it in even more countries. Don’t worry -- we hear you! We’d like to launch EFT in as many countries as possible, but there are many things that we need to take into consideration before launching it, including legal and banking restrictions.

We’re working constantly to overcome the hurdles to launch EFT in more countries, so thanks for being patient with us. We also know that you are the local experts -- if there are payment methods that we don’t offer, but would work well for you otherwise, please leave us a comment! We’d love to have good suggestions from those who know best.