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Google Provides More Details On Quality Score. Nope.

pigeonrankGoogle announced two upcoming changes to Quality Score (QS) on the AdWords blog on Thursday.

One change improves how Google estimates click-through rates.

The other change introduces a “hop-scotch” algorithm for picking ads for the top of the search results page.

We’ll allow an ad that meets the quality threshold to appear above the search results even if it has to jump over other ads to do so. For instance, suppose the ad in position 1 on the right side of the page doesn’t have a high enough Quality Score to appear above the search results, but the ad in position 2 does. It’s now possible for the number 2 ad to jump over the number 1 ad and appear above the search results. Inside AdWords, 10/30/08

Does anyone else find that explanation boggling? Makes me wonder if pigeons rank the paid listings too.

Google sells four times more ads than anyone else online. QS is central to how those ads are sold. QS determines what each advertiser pays per click. QS determines how many clicks each advertiser receives. But QS is a black box. The details of the algorithm are secret. Sure, QS depends heavily on CTR, but it isn’t just CTR. Vague issues like “other relevance factors” (what does that mean?) are also folded in.

With all due respect to Hal Varian, I’m challenged to call Google bidding a true “auction” because bidders aren’t provided the relationship between bid price and winning. Pay more and you usually get more clicks — we all understand that dynamic. But there’s a large amount of implicit trust required: “Rest assured Google always chooses your pricing and position to maximize Google revenue user happiness”. Got it.

Paid search is a remarkable advertising mechanism. And Google is an amazing company. Google dominates search, deservedly so. But please, please, Google, consider providing more transparency into quality score, pricing, position, and the click auctions. Done well, all sides could benefit.

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  • Alan Rimm-Kaufman
    Alan Rimm-Kaufman founded the Rimm-Kaufman Group...
  • Comments
    3 Responses to “Google Provides More Details On Quality Score. Nope.”
    1. Matt L says:

      If Google’s ultimate goal was for the user to benefit, they would want to make this information as public as possible so all these companies could get their act straight – benefiting the user quickly as possible.

    2. Nicholas Busbee says:

      After getting these “Quality Score” notices every few days, no matter what you try, eventually I think anyone who has a life to live just gives up on trying to improve the quality of their ads or website landing pages. For the sake of time, and sanity we simply raises our bids. This is how it seems to work:Position #6… you need to raise your quality score or increase your bid. #5 gets the same message at the same time.Finally, positions #6 and #5 give up on quality scores and raise their bids. Then position #4… you need to raise your quality score or bid. #3 gets the same message at the same time, Raise Quality score or bid.They finally give up on the quality score and raise their bids. This eventually causes position #2 to raise their bid. Position # 1 raises their bid automatically. Guess who’s next in line? Yep good old position number 10. You need to improve your quality score or raise your bid. Position # 9 gets the same message at the same time! And the circle starts all over again!

      Next thing you know, a 5 cent keyword is selling for 10.00 dollars! And lets look at the end result. If every position complies, and everyone either improves their Quality Score, or raises their bid, The potential customer will still be looking at the exact same ads, maybe slightly different wording. And these ads will lead to the exact same websites. The information seeker or potential customers will find the exact same end result they would have seen if nothing had changed at all.

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