April 8, 2019


Skewed outcomes on FB. Machine learning at its best: The Power 5

A deep dive into FB targeting bias: How the algo can skew your ad delivery, even when you don’t intend to.

5 features FB wants you to use to take full advantage of their machine learning power. Although, some bugs never leave you alone.

Facebook Ads skewed outcomes

They say that starting the day by executing the hardest tasks will set you up for a successful day. We suppose this works for starting the week too.

That’s why, this Monday, we will start by deep diving into Facebook’s ad delivery. According to this research shared by Attila, ad delivery on FB could lead to a skewed outcome.

The hypothesis behind the research is that the targeting process of FB can skew the delivery in ways that advertisers don’t mean to happen.

In other words, some groups of people are less likely than others to see an ad based on their demographic characteristics.

The study reveals how some factors can influence an exclusion in the targeting, even though you didn’t exclude a particular audience.

  • Skewed ad delivery can be a result of market effects alone.
  • It can also occur due to the content of the ad itself (i.e., the ad headline, text, and image, collectively called the ad creative).
  • The ad image has a significant impact on the ad delivery. This image is automatically classified by Facebook, and this classification can skew delivery from the beginning of the ad campaigns.
  • Real-world employment and housing ads can experience significantly skewed delivery.

The results demonstrate unknown mechanisms that lead to a discriminatory delivery, despite advertisers opting for a highly inclusive targeting.

The final goal of the study is to underscore the necessity of policymakers to regulate this mechanism to prevent unwanted discrimination.

Although, FB has already been sued for this recently by the US government. And probably the latest changes in the targeting options for some kind of ads (housing, credit and employment) are a result of it.

Basically, the study shows that the smart FB algo can end up being discriminatory too.

However, we encourage you to have a look at the research from an advertisers perspective to better understand the mechanisms of FB targeting and its algorithm intelligence. Plus, how your targeting can be twisted by FB even when you don’t intend to.

The Fantastic 5 (according to Facebook)

If you are a direct response advertiser, Facebook has shared 5 elements that can lead you to excellent results.

It seems that the days of manually hacking your way to success are over, because FB says that you should now leverage its intelligence to unlock better results for yourself.

FB calls these tactics the “Power 5” which, when used together, can lead to outstanding results. So, what are Facebook’s Fantastic 5?

  • Auto advanced matching: More accurately attributing where conversions come from.
  • Simplified account structure: By simplifying your account structure, you allow FB’s machine learning to autotest which creatives and ad placements drive the best results so that it can optimize in real time.
  • Campaign budget optimization: Maximize campaign results and spend less on underperforming ad sets.
  • Automatic placements: With automatic placements, you can reach your audience through all relevant placements using a single ad set. This can save both time and cost, as Facebook will work to optimize campaigns to deliver a cheaper cost.
  • Dynamic ads: Automatically deliver the right product ad to the right person, based on interests your targeted audience have expressed on your site, or elsewhere on the internet.

In a nutshell, FB wants you to use these five features in order to improve your performances. If you want to read more, have a look at their post here. You can even find some case studies shared by FB.

This shows how machine learning is set to automate a lot of advertisers’ work: With CBO, you don’t have to optimize the budget among ad sets because FB does it for you.

Automatic placements and Dynamic ads? Same outcome: FB’s algo optimizes the best placement for your campaigns. Plus, you don’t have to target an interested audience with a related product thanks to Dynamic ads.

We already talked about how FB intelligence is going to make advertisers work less on the media buying part. Looking to the future, if all advertisers have access to this power, then the fight will probably be more centralized around creatives and offers.

Obviously the overall marketing strategy plays a big part too.

Therefore, advertisers will need to focus less on the optimization and more on the offers, the creativity and the marketing strategy.

Of course, all of this has a downside as well: Blackouts, data leaks and bugs, as you can see below…

Conversion Events missing over the weekend

After that outage in March, bugs on the Ads Manager have been a constant thorn in advertisers’ side.

The latest bug to see the light of day centres around Conversion Events.

Some advertisers aren’t able to find events to select their campaign objectives.

If you’re experiencing this, know that you are not alone. It does seem that for some advertisers that normality has returned and it was just a temporary bug, so we hope the same can be said for your campaigns.

It just goes to show that if you want to take advantage of all FB’s powerful machine learning, you’ll just have to get used to all these unexpected events.

We even heard that FB bugs will be more common as the CBO becomes mandatory. So if you want to advertise on FB, it’s something you’ll have to deal with…Joking


Wanna make more out of your lead gen campaigns? GO DIRECT!

OK, so we’re pretty sure a lot of you reading this are quite familiar with generating leads… All sort of leads.

And you probably also know how many of those leads are monetized… Yep, it’s through surveys!

Well, we have some great news for you! Today’s sponsor is again none other than Survey Junkie – one of the world’s biggest market research panels.

What they have to offer is simple, but extremely valuable: a direct offer for a single opt-in email submit that converts between 25 and 50%.

And they’re working with high budgets from Fortune500 companies, so they told us to dare you to hit the cap!

They already know media buyers like yourself have the power. Go show ’em what you got!

Sign up and get that juicy ROI!

You also get countless offer landing pages to choose from, because Survey Junkie owns the offer, so they work tirelessly on optimizing and split testing!

Very important for after you sign up!

An account manager will get in touch over email or Skype, to help you get going! Make sure you check for an email from Survey Junkie. You know how it is, emails can easily get lost. Then you’re left wondering if you got approved or not…


Google had a bug and an itch

Over the weekend, Google battled a bug which resulted in many website owners seeing their web pages de-indexed from search results, losing them a huge chunk of search traffic.

Google resolved that quickly enough, and then inched a step closer to its 4th fine by debuting ads on TV.

Let’s start with the bug…

Google (mistakenly) de-indexing websites

Over the weekend, many site owners experienced something disturbing. Google was de-indexing many high traffic websites from search index.

It resulted in up to 50% traffic and conversions drop coming from Google search.

It looks like this was all just a technical issue on Google’s end and has now been resolved. The affected URLs have also been reprocessed since then.

There are still some reports of ongoing de-indexing issues for some site owners though.

If you’re seeing the same problem, here’s how you can fix it:

The URL Inspector tool under the Search Console interface is a useful resource for managing issues like these.

  • Go to your Search Console.
  • Use the dropdown box at the top left-hand corner to select the website you’re having trouble with.
  • Click on “URL Inspection”. A green search box at the top of your screen will be highlighted where you can enter the URL you’d like to inspect.
  • You’ll most likely see the result “URL is not on Google”. Click on the text that says “Request Indexing” right below.
  • It might tell you that the URL is crawled and indexed, but you still might not be seeing it in the results page. Go ahead and click on the “Request Indexing” and follow the next set of instructions to fix it.
  • You’ll see a message box that says “Testing if Live URL can be indexed”. This process will take about 1 to 2 minutes.
  • If Google is able to index the URL, you will see a new message box that says “Indexing Requested” with a checkmark.

This means your URL has been placed into an indexation queue and should have your homepage or whatever other page was randomly de-indexed by Google and back in its proper ranking position within a few minutes to a few hours.

The above steps have been tested by ScreamingFrog and other SEM agencies and they experienced immediate re-indexing.

Google’s desperate attempts for a 4th fine

It looks like Google is hell bent on making sure that it receives a 4th fine. It’s like they think it’s some sort of sadomasochistic game.

Last week, it went against FTC guidelines and started showing ads on Google Home without the “Sponsored” tag.

This week, ads suddenly started appearing on the home screens of many popular Android TV devices, without intimating the users. What’s even weirder is that there is no option to get rid of the ads.

As per a Google spokesperson: “These ads were part of a pilot program. Android TV is committed to optimizing and personalizing the entertainment experience at home.”

Apparently, the purpose of these ads is to help you discover new apps and contents for your TV.

Well, we’re not entirely sure that this is a smart move from a mature tech giant like Google, especially when it’s not the first time something similar has been attempted. Samsung previously tried something similar and got caught, and we already know that Google are front and center of the regulators’ radars.

Vizio ventured into it too and had to pay $2.2M to settle charges around having monitored the viewing habits of more than 11M TV users without their consent for over 2 years.

Though if Google makes it official and rolls these ads while following FTC guidelines, it might be another source of media buying for marketers like us.


Discover if human search evaluators reviewed your website

Last Friday, we learned that Google doesn’t just use an automated algo to rate your web content and rank your pages accordingly. They also employ human evaluators.

We shared an internal Google guidelines document that these human evaluators use to go about their jobs, and many of our readers found this content exciting and helpful!

In fact, Matthew Woodward (well known among the SEO community) is one of our regular readers and replied to our email with some more information on this.

It turns out that you can actually check if a search engine evaluator has ever manually reviewed your site.

You can do this using a custom Google Analytics segment to track the traffic coming from search engine evaluator portals. Matthew has a done-for-you template which you can use to create this segment.

To learn more about which pages were visited, you can go to:

  • Behaviour > Site content > All pages.
  • Select “Full Referrer” as secondary dimension and you will see which evaluator visited & the page(s) they reviewed.

You can also set up automatic alerts every time a search evaluator visits your website. Go to Google Analytics > Admin > Custom Alerts.

If your website has been visited by a search evaluator, here’s what you should do:

  • Check the impact on your traffic.
  • Assess if you’ve passed or failed.
  • If you’ve failed, do your own *Needs Met and **E-A-T analysis & improve your content.

*Needs met guideline is a metric to determine whether a search result is helpful for mobile users and if it fulfils the needs of the person searching for content related to his search term.

**E-A-T rating determines the Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness of a ranking page.

In this post, Matthew goes on to discuss it in detail and talk more about the steps you can take if search evaluators flag your site, and what you want them to write about your website. If you are interested in learning more about this, head here.


Cool tech, (funny) business, lifestyle and all the other things affiliates like to chat about while sipping cocktails by the pool.

Hey Apple, something is wrong!

If you want to get mucha plata in a short time and live the Lambo and poolside life, targeting a tech giant seems to be the easiest way to do that.

Remember that guy who sent fake invoices to Facebook and Google?

Well, now there are two more heroes out there. This time the victim is Apple, and the outcome for the pirates was substantial. How substantial, you ask? $900K.

What did they do? Two students, identified as Quan Jiang and Yangyang Zhou had a simple, brilliant (illegal) idea. They sent fake iPhones to Apple claiming that the device would not turn on and that it was under warranty. Soon after, a genuine replacement arrived in the mail.

Nearly 1500 claims were approved, with a new phone sent out for each one. Obviously the two wily foxes then sold the iPhones overseas, making a healthy chunk in the process.

The investigation started when the officers seized several shipments coming from Hong Kong containing cell phones from China.

The devices looked like Apple products, but the shipping methods and packaging raised the suspicions of officials, who then determined that the phones were counterfeit.

It’s not just dropshippers that have trouble with overseas shipments…

After this episode and the one about the fake invoices sent to Google and FB, we’ll probably take the game up to the next level: Selling courses on how to make a lot of cheese by tricking tech giants. We’re the next gurus!

Does someone out there want to register on the waitlist?

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