<< by on February 16th, 2007
We have a client that has had a PPC advertising philosophy based on top ad visibility for “Branding”. Truthfully, we are all about using conversions as the basis of our advertising, so it’s been interesting. Once we started showing them cost per conversion data that philosophy changed a little. They decided paying to be number one all the time wasn’t getting them the value they thought it would get, and maybe it was time to start using Google AdWords Position Preferences.
We then put Position Preferences in place to be at the 3rd to 4th ad positions for their keywords. With the exception of Position Preferences, we kept everything else in their AdWords Campaign exactly the same – Namely the $100 maximum cost per click we were previously using. One hundred dollars per click is the maximum that Google allows, no one can out bid you at this level.
Google’s own AdWords Help Page about Position Preferences even gives examples about using similar settings:
If you find that your ad gets the best results when it is ranked (for example) third or fourth among all AdWords ads, you can set a position preference for those spots. AdWords will then try to show your ad whenever it is ranked third or fourth, and avoid showing it when it is ranked higher or lower. If your ad is ranked higher than third for a given keyword, the system will automatically try to lower your bid to place your ad in your preferred position.
So what happened? The ads immediately stopped showing up and according to Google’s own AdWords Diagnostic Tool it was because the bid was too low to show in the selected ad positions. ???? Our $100 maximum bid is too low?!
So I sent in my help request to AdWords, and they informed me that it wasn’t a matter of the bid being too low. Duhh. They said:
If you’d like to keep your current position settings, try improving your Ad Rank to appear more frequently in your preferred positions. The actual position of your ad for any keyword will depend on your Quality Score and your cost-per-click (CPC) bid for the keyword. Although you have a high maximum CPC, increasing your Quality Score through optimization can help improve your Ad Rank.
We ended up not following that advice, because the client wouldn’t change ad copy, expand the keyword list or improve the landing page (Don’t Get Me Started on That Part). We just expanded the Position Preference range from 3 to 10 and adjusted the bids manually downward.
So I was very excited when Google added its new Quality Score column on Adwords this week. Finally something concrete from Google that would convince the client to improve the account! Right…. Guess what, Google’s Quality Score for all of the keywords were according to Google “Great”. Ok, if my Quality Score is “Great” and I’m willing to bid the maximum cost per click and my ad still won’t show up with Position Preferences, what’s going on?
The answer, after a little digging, is that the Quality Score that Google started showing this week isn’t the Quality Score that determines your ad positions — it’s the Quality Score for determining your minimum bid. It appears that their may be two Quality Scores:
Your ad rank defines your position on a page after the ad auction.
For the search network, this placement is defined by your keyword’s Quality Score and maximum CPC bid.
The Quality Score used in this case differs slightly from the keyword Quality Score used to determine your ad’s minimum CPC bid requirement:
For defining minimum CPC bid requirements and your overall keyword quality within AdWords, your Quality Score evaluates your keyword’s clickthrough rate (CTR) and the relevance of the keyword, your ad’s text, and landing page.
For ad ranking, our system evaluates how well your ad has performed in relation to a user’s specific query. Our system therefore considers your keyword’s CTR, ad text relevance, and your keyword’s relevance in relation to a user’s search query.
I’m going to go on record and officially dub the Quality Score now shown this week on AdWords as “Baby Quality Score“. It appears to be insignificant at this point and only used for setting minimum bids. Who cares? Real Quality Score is about determining ad rankings.