Today, Google announced an update to the way they calculate and report AdWords Quality Score (QS) to advertisers. This is likely to cause much confusion, doubt and unrest in our industry, but rest assured, we believe this change will be neutral-to-positive.
Advertisers should understand that there are two QS metrics: one is the true QS metric on Google's back-end, and the other is the 1-10 scoring metric that Google displays to advertisers in their front-end. Google will not be making any changes to their true, back-end QS calculations. Instead, Google will be changing the translation calculation to the exposed 1-10 score.
Importantly then, this a reporting change only, and does not impact the auction, CPC pricing or competitive landscape. Instead, the update aims to better align the 1-10 metric with the true, back-end Quality Score measure.
When I first read then news, I asked myself this question, "If QS needed an update to more accurately represent the true ranking, what have I been looking at for years?" I don't think there will be a blanket answer to that question. However, it has likely been the case that the 1-10 QS we've seen in the front-end has been directionally accurate. And kudos to Google for announcing the change and basically admitting - It's been good so far, but we want it to be better.
It does call into doubt anyone who claimed to gain material insights from QS metrics to date. At RKG, we've stated before that one shouldn't be overly focused on QS. These new measurements will help as one signal among many, but should never consume the advertiser's attention.
As a former Googler explained, QS has always been, and will remain largely correlated to click-through-rate (CTR). Advertisers should remain focused on improvements to ad quality and testing to improve CTR performance, and hopefully with this update, tighter QS metrics will provide better measures of success.