Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Google AdWords makes changes to Quality Score

At the end of last week the Google AdWords blog announced some significant improvements to their Quality Score system. The changes are that, firstly, Quality Score will become more accurate because it will be calculated at the time of each search query. Secondly, keywords will no longer be marked 'inactive for search' and finally the notification of 'first page bid' will replace 'minimum bid' in an account.

The first change is particularly notable in that Google is now replacing the static Quality Score system for each keyword with one that will evaluate an advert's quality each time it matches a search query. This means that AdWords will use the most accurate, specific, and up-to-date performance information when determining whether an ad should be displayed, which Google says will mean that adverts will be more likely to show when they're relevant and less likely to show when they're not.

In Google's quest for relevancy, this change should also mean that searchers are likely to see better ads and advertisers should receive leads which are more highly qualified. This is clearly going to be a very 'fluid' system that adds further calculations to the position and cost of each advert and will require further focus from advertisers to improve their campaign metrics.

Google had previously identified under-performing terms within each campaign and marked them 'inactive for search' - this is now changing so that terms will be available for advertisers to use and bid against, although they are likely to still have a low quality score and not perform particularly well, even with higher bid levels.

The final change is also notable in that the 'minimum bid' notification for each search term is now changing to a 'first page bids' figure, which is an estimate of the bid level required to place an advert on the first page of Google's search results. These figures are based on the exact match version of each keyword, the ad's Quality Score and current advertiser competition on that keyword. This will be a more useful figure for advertisers and give some better insight into the competitive nature of each search term as well as guidance on the necessary bid levels to achieve first place position - which is also likely to help Google push up the average bid levels across the market.

These notified changes to the Quality Score system are gradually being introduced to advertisers but are likely to be widely available within the next few months ready for the pre-Christmas peak of advertising for many e-commerce companies.

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