In a recent report, Google announced that it will be updating the way Quality Scores are displayed in AdWords. This reporting-only change will not affect either click costs or ad serving. According to Google, the change to Quality Score reporting will improve accuracy and transparency for advertisers by aligning the 1–10 score with three major Quality Score factors: click-through rate, ad relevance, and landing-page experience. By aligning the 1–10 score with these factors, Quality Score should better reflect the expected ad performance in the bidding auction.
Below are answers to questions advertisers might have about this change.
When will this change occur?
Google announced the change on July 26, 2013, and expects the change to go into effect for all advertisers in the next couple of days.
Will my Ad Rank, CPCs, or average position be affected?
This change to Quality Score reporting will not have an effect on performance; it is merely a reporting change, so auction-time Quality Score, auction eligibility, actual CPC, and your ad’s auction rank will not be affected.
If Quality Score is used to determine Ad Rank, position and actual CPC, how is it possible that there will be no effect on performance or ad serving?
This change does not affect auction-time Quality Score, the score that Google calculates to predict how relevant and useful your ad is to a user. This prediction is based on expected click-through rate, ad relevance, and landing-page quality, among other factors, and works with the max CPC bid to determine Ad Rank, position, and actual CPC. Since this change does not affect auction-time Quality Score, these facets of paid search advertisements will not be affected.
However, the 1–10 Quality Score seen in the AdWords front end reflects keyword auction-time Quality Scores across auctions on a daily basis. Thus, advertisers will witness a change with the Quality Score displayed on the AdWords front end, as this number reflects the actual performance of keywords. As a result, the Quality Score displayed in AdWords will more accurately reflect keyword performance as Google aligns this score with the three key quality score factors mentioned above.
Will this affect my keywords’ bids?
No, Quality Score will not have a direct effect on keyword bids. Rather, bids are set around target CPAs, ROI, target CPC, average position, average order value, and similar metrics.
Will this change affect automated rules associated with my keywords?
For advertisers that leverage automated rules in AdWords, this change may have an impact on the account. For instance, if an advertiser has the following rule in place: “Increase CPC by 10% on keywords that have a QS of 8 and that have an average position of 2,” some keywords will be affected. We recommend that all advertisers double-check their automated rules to ensure they are being used the way they were originally intended.
However, if automated rules are only being applied to “high-quality keywords,” this update should improve the value of those rules and criteria as this update ensures that keywords with strong subfactors have high Quality Scores.
How will this change affect reporting on Quality Score trends over time?
At this point, the only way to track historical Quality Score information over time is to take daily snapshots of Quality Score and determine trends based on this data. It is possible that this change will result is the discontinuation of certain reports for keywords whose Quality Score is updated as a result of the change. With that said, note that Quality Score reported before the change may not be compatible with Quality Scores reported after the change.
As we receive more information about this new change from Google, we will elaborate on further effects on advertisers and their paid search marketing campaigns.