Google Shares Quality With Ad Clients

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AdWords users will begin to get a glimpse of the ‘man behind the curtain’ as they make a trio of general Quality Score ratings available, based on the keywords clients pick for those campaigns.

Google changed the ecology of keyword buying when it introduced the Quality Score back in August 2005. A basic metric has been essentially true since then: high quality keywords will have relatively lower minimum bid prices, and low quality keywords will cost more.

Google’s technical acumen has long been matched by its black box-like lack of transparency into its operations. Frustration has been a frequently reported feeling among advertising clients battered in the budget by Quality Scores. They have to give Google their money, since that’s the biggest search game in town.

The company has been aware of this opaqueness, and in a recent post on Inside Adwords, transparency and Quality Scores came in for special mention:

Transparency – Later this week, we’re releasing an optional Quality Score column that shows the minimum bid for all of the keywords within an ad group as well as a Great, OK, or Poor quality label for your keyword.

You can select this column by clicking ‘Customize Columns’ in one of your ad groups (selecting this will also automatically populate the column for all other ad groups within that campaign). Use the quality label to get a quick overview of the quality of your keywords, or look at the minimum bid for a granular understanding of your Quality Score.

Pending changes to the algorithm that governs Quality Score will hit next week. Google characterized these as ways of improving the quality of the ads that people see:

First, we’re improving the way that we set minimum bids for keywords where we have limited data. For example, if the system does not have any data on a keyword, we’ll try to assign that keyword a lower initial minimum bid until we have enough data to make a more accurate assessment of the Quality Score for that keyword in your account.

Second, we’re improving the Quality Score algorithm to make it more accurate in predicting the quality of all ads. This will improve the overall quality of ads that we serve by lowering minimum bids for high quality ads and raising minimum bids for low quality ads.

Bottom line: your keyword prices are probably going to fluctuate, starting next week. You’ll want to postpone bailing out of town for a little sunshine, because those Greats/OKs/Poors you see this week will be for-real price changes after the weekend.

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