Lawsuit + Irish GDPR probe + Accidental data mismanagement = A bad week for Google
Google had a great week at GML 2019, announcing several new products and features and getting some promising reception on them.
However, they’ve been brought crashing back down to Earth this week. They are facing a lawsuit by AdTrader, a probe from Irish privacy regulators and public backslash for privacy management.
Let’s have a quick look at each of them.
Withholding refunds for ad fraud
Rewind back to 2017, and a notably large ad fraud was discovered on ad exchanges. This led to advertisers using DoubleClick Bid Manager being offered refunds for serving their ads on sites that were receiving fraudulent traffic.
However, according to the Wall Street Journal, “Google wasn’t in a position to return money that had already flowed from its buying tool to third-party online ad marketplaces where publishers were selling ad space.”
AdTrader filed a lawsuit against Google for not delivering the promised refunds, even after it reclaimed money from publishers accused of using inflated or fraudulent traffic.
Court documents revealed that Google had refused to pay up to $75M in potential refunds that were tied to ad marketplaces like AdX and AdSense. Ad marketplaces that Google itself owns and controls.
As per third party estimates, ad fraud amounts to more than $16B globally, and brands will lose between $6B – $7B this year on fraudulent traffic.
The lawsuit is still in process, with Google forced to defend accusations of monopolism despite it positioning itself as a champion of advertiser interests.
First GDPR probe from Irish privacy regulators
In a continued standoff with European regulators over data privacy concerns, Google is also looking at its first GDPR probe from Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner (DCP).
The probe started after browser company Brave filed a complaint alleging Google’s ad auction system constituted a data breach under GDPR rules.
“Every time a person visits a website and is shown a ‘behavioral’ ad on a website, intimate personal data that describes each visitor, and what they are watching online, is broadcast to tens or hundreds of companies.
A data breach occurs because this broadcast, known as a ‘bid request’ in the online industry, fails to protect these intimate data against unauthorized access.”
Google, as always, defended their auction system and pledged their full cooperation with the investigators..
If found guilty, the potential penalties for Google could be as high as 4% of its global annual revenue. This amounts to a whopping $5.4B!
Passwords stored in plain-text for 14 Years
Moving on from lawsuits and probes to downright carelessness.
There have been a few similar cases recently of Facebook and Twitter mismanaging data, but this time it’s Google under the spotlight. Google has been found storing its users’ passwords, unprotected, in plaintext on its servers.
How long has this been going on?
Google recently confirmed this, revealing that its G Suite platform mistakenly stored unhashed passwords of some of its 5M enterprise users on internal servers in plaintext. For the last 14 YEARS!
Apparently, this happened because of a bug in its password recovery feature.
The bug resided in the password recovery mechanism for G Suite customers thatallowed administrators to upload or manually set passwords for any user of their domain without actually knowing their previous passwords in order to help businesses with on-boarding employees and for account recovery.
If the admins did reset, the admin console would store a copy of those passwords in plain text rather than encrypting them.
Google has now removed this capability and emailed the admins a list of impacted users, asking them to ensure that those users reset their passwords.
Google will also be automatically resetting passwords for those users who do not change their passwords.
It also clarified that this bug has now been patched and didn’t affect the free version of Gmail.
Recently, Facebook was in the news for storing plaintext passwords for hundreds of millions of its FB and IG users on its internal servers. Twitter had a similar security bug which affected around 330M users’ data.
Well, it certainly looks like this sort of carelessness is becoming the norm for even the biggest tech platforms. Just another day, another story of awful data mismanagement.
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Performance drop. Easy technique to scale ad accounts to $300k per month
Many marketers are experiencing a drop in the performance… Again. How to scale your ad accounts to $300k per month.
At this point, a performance drop spread around Facebook ad accounts isn’t exactly surprising news.
However, it’s still our responsibility to keep you updated with things.
Vadim Shevchuk first reported this in the Facebook Ad Buyers Group.
Many other marketers have come out and confirmed that they are facing similar issues. Some said their performance drop started last week.
Usual disorder, eh?
Well, if you also noticed something similar on your accounts, don’t lose any sleep over it. It’s just Facebook being Facebook…
Scaling to 3x ROAS
Leaving Facebook issues aside for a moment, let’s talk about some productive stuff.
Kris Sugatan shared the technique her agency used to scale 3 ad accounts to a steady 3X ROAS. These accounts are spending $200k-$300k per month, so it’s some sweet revenue.
Here’s the strategy:
- They identified 5 of the best-converting creatives and audiences on regular CBO campaigns, and created a completely new CBO campaign based on these.
- They created ad sets with a daily budget of 3x – 12x the target CPA ($500 in their case), opting for the “Lowest cost with bid cap” optimization.
- They created 10 ad sets with 5 creatives for each one of them.
- The campaign started with a 2.5 ROAS at TOF (Top of the Funnel). To scale it, they further increased the budget daily by 20-30%.
- They then duplicated the campaign and started a new one with a higher budget:$1.5k daily (30x CPA target).
Pretty simple technique, we’re sure you’ll agree. A good reminder that, sometimes, simplicity is the best option.
.com, .net, .org: which is the best TLD?
Do you think having a .com domain is still as important as it once was?
Yes? No? No idea?
Well, GrowthBadger is here to answer that burning question. They have been running an experiment to test the “.com” against 7 other TLDs, with the aim to discover the importance of a .com domain.
Kyle Byers surveyed 1500 people to see how they react to 8 popular top level domains: .com, .net, .org, .biz, .us, .co, .blog, and .io.
What are the key findings?
- .com domains are over 33% more memorable than URLs with other top-level domains.
- .com is still the most trusted TLD.
It’s clear then, the next time you’re buying a domain, try to go for the .com extension.
If the .com is unavailable for any reason, you can opt for .co or .org, which came second and third in the rankings.
The extension you should avoid? The one that is least trustworthy is .biz, while .io was found to be the least memorable.
If you want to have a look at the complete rankings, you’ll find them here.
Company Pages now show Sponsored Content history
One of the most discussed topics of the last week has been… Where the heck is the Info & Ads section?
Eventually, we discovered that Facebook had got rid of it and merged it with its Ad Library.
Following in Facebook’s footsteps, LinkedIn has launched the LinkedIn Ads tab, which will list all the native Sponsored Content ads a company has run over the last six months.
This move not only improves transparency for users, but it will also benefit advertisers who are looking to spy on their competitors’ ads.
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Recent content not indexed?
Like we said, Google is not having a good week. Even their most reliable and mature service, the trusty old Search, is experiencing performance issues.
A potential bug with Google search cropped up this morning which is preventing new content from many news outlets showing up in the search results.
It’s not yet confirmed if this is an indexing bug, a bug with Google’s search filters and tools, or something else entirely.
If you’ve been pushing out new content on your website this morning, just be aware that search users might not be able to find it.
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And no, we aren’t doing too bad.
We want to spend the coming summer under the Italian sun, eating spaghetti, drinking Prosecco and living La dolce vita…
However, it’s not just the lifestyle, it’s also about business. This is a very good deal we’re making!
In fact, the WTAFF Crew discovered that some Sicilian towns are selling houses for just $2!
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Just a small catch, but it shouldn’t bother you too much.
You will have to renovate the homes within 3 years of purchase. Also, there are some additional fees and taxes involved that will take the cost up to somewhere between $2.7k and $4.5k.
A day’s sales from your affiliate business, right? Nothing too bank-breaking or wallet busting.
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