Apr 242012

Quality Score Clarity is HERE!

Google is rolling out a GREAT new feature in the UI that should help paid search managers of all shapes and sizes. About 18 months ago I gave my friends at Google some grief over calling Quality Score "quality" score, arguing that that choice of words implied that a low score meant the search manager was doing something poorly. It never has meant that.

A QS can be low for a well written ad for any number of reasons including inherently ambiguous user intent suggested by the KW. In many many instances all the ads in an auction will have a relatively low QS because only a fraction of folks searching with those words have commercial intent. That means the CTRs will be low due to no fault of the person writing ad copy.

However, with just a low number staring us in the face, we have to guess (across hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions of keywords) whether more copy testing was required or whether everything was in fact fine. It gave folks with little knowledge something to harp on, and caused many a paid search manager to waste countless hours trying to raise QS's that simply weren't going to get better.

Google is now giving us a better sense of how we're doing relative to other advertisers. Search managers will be able to hover over the keyword status to see how your ad stacks up against competitors in expected click-through-rate, ad relevance, and landing page experience. We'll know whether we're average, above average or below average in all of those attributes so that we know what should be improved, and where we should focus our efforts.

This is HUGE!

There will be times still when a "below average" doesn't mean you're doing it wrong. If other advertisers are offering free puppies and your puppies aren't free, you might be stuck with a below average CTR and the benefits of qualifying traffic may outweigh the QS penalty. This will certainly be true of folks selling goods and services catering to the higher end of the market, rather than the mass market.

Nevertheless, this is a big step forward, and I'm delighted.

Now, what we'd like next is to be able to pull this info through the API so we can dynamically identify and address problems, and potentially even throw these relative rankings into our bidding algorithm to see if there are any interesting correlations we can use to enhance our bids. Being able to pull it through Desktop Editor to do the same in spreadsheets would work, too.

If I can have those things I promise I won't ask for anything else ever again....HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Thanks Google Engineers! We appreciate the help. This will help every paid search manager use their time more effectively and that will benefit advertisers, agencies and Google at the end of the day. Resources are inherently constrained and this will save folks valuable time to be used productively elsewhere!


9 Responses to "Quality Score Clarity is HERE!"
Tom says:
so they do listen :) I'd like to hear your thoughts on their definitions of 'ad relevance' and 'landing page experience' George Thanks, Tom
Holy Moley! This isn't some kind of late April fool is it?
Wouldn't kid you about a thing like that, Richard! Thanks for your note, Tom. I'll chew on the components of QS a bit and probably write a separate post for that. Worth noting that the components and calculation of QS hasn't changed here, they just exposed more information about how your ad stacks up.
Adam says:
We definitely appreciate the steps Google is taking to shed more light on their Quality Score calculation! Thanks for writing.
Wow, this is great. This is the first I have heard about this but I think Google has made a great decision in showing us this information compared to others in similar industries.
I saw interesting thing: it was said that QS is the same despite match type. Now numbers are still the same i.e. exact and broad, both QS=7, but QS descriptions differentiate: above average/below average.
Fascinating observation, Tomasz! Comparing CTRs of ads from different advertisers being matched broadly (potentially to different user searches) based on GOOGLE's choices is a hard concept to grasp. We'll have to take a look under the hood at this. Thanks for sharing!


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