As is their want, Google have made significant changes to their AdWords Quality Score algorithms recently. If you’re about to launch your seasonal advertising campaign, it’s worth brushing up on the new requirements to keep costs as low as possible during the festive period. Although a poor Quality Score doesn’t necessarily mean that your seasonal ads won’t show, it does mean that costs are higher than they need to be for each click, limiting your ROI and capping the effectiveness of the campaign
Before embarking on a complete overhaul of your paid search advertising on Google, get busy pulling some historical data from your ’07 efforts. This will give you a benchmark from years gone by and allow you to make an educated guess as to the expected impressions, click through and conversion rates.
To establish a point of comparison, you’ll also need to monitor key metrics such as impressions and CTR over the last four weeks. The changes were implemented at the beginning of November so you should now be beginning to see the impact, if any, on your campaigns when you run off data from the AdWords report centre.
The changes to Google’s AdWords quality score and advert rankings see two new calculations being applied. The first will determine the quality of any given paid search advert and the second, where that advert should most appropriately be positioned within the search results page. Within this latter element, the difference will most notably be felt by advertisers used to paying above the going rate to see their ad show in the ‘sponsored search’ section of the results pages. Realizing the prominence of the position, Google will now place extra emphasis on the quality and relevance of the advert, as determined by the new Quality Score, before placing paid search messages in this spot.
One of the greatest changes to be seen in ads based on the new Quality Score is the impact of CTR on ratings. Previously, adverts with a high click through rate enjoyed a better quality score; this is because ads in higher positions are usually seen by more searches and therefore attract more clicks. The AdWords team will now take this into account and remove this bias. Google say these changes are necessary for more accurate quality ratings and ensure that ads compete fairly for positions. This competition will now be based on their quality and bid, rather than how many users previously clicked on the advertisement. The ultimate aim is to allow the search engine to move closer to its Shangri-La of only displaying the most relevant of paid search messages to web users searching for information online.
To allow them to move a little closer to this ultimate objective, the search engine is also revamping the way it picks adverts for the colored ‘Sponsored Search’ band above the search results. Previously, the space remained empty if the advert with the highest Ad Rank didn’t meet the quality threshold but now, Google will allow those in lower positions but still meeting the new quality requirements to leapfrog other advertisers. For advertisers on a smaller budget this is a significant bargaining chip as it rewards well-constructed campaigns over big budget advertisers.
Overall, it’s easy to get carried away watching statistics and filtering through data but while all of these are great indications of consumer reactions to a campaign, conversion rates and cost per conversion are just, if not more important. In the advertising frenzy that builds up around festive periods such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, Google’s Quality Score changes serve as a welcome reminder that the more integrated, more relevant and more on-topic ad groups and ad text are, the better the outcome for everyone.