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Google releases white paper to dispel Quality Score myths

quality_scoreJune 25, 2014

Google issued a white paper on June 24 regarding exactly what role its Quality Score variable plays in improve online advertising.

The 10-page paper, entitled “Settling the (Quality) Score: Using Quality Score to Guide Optimizations,” says that Quality Score is meant to be more like “the warning lights in a car: something that alerts you to potential problems” than it is an absolute, authoritative statement as to whether or not Google AdWords has been effective. In other words, the first thing stated in the paper that every advertiser should know about Quality Score is that it is a “diagnostic tool” and not a “key performance indicator.”

Instead of using Quality Score as a performance indicator, advertisers should focus on “high value areas where you can affect change.”

Three Main Components

In order to determine where advertisers need to focus their efforts to improve their account, they should examine the three main components of Quality Score:

  • Ad relevance – How well the ad matches with the intent of the user’s search.
  • Expected click through rate (CTR) – The probability that users will click the ad.
  • Landing page experience– How relevant the page is and how easy it is for users to navigate.

Most advertisers tend to focus on CTR when trying to measure their ad’s effectiveness, the paper says, but the other two components are just as important in online advertising. Quality score uses a scale of 1 to 10, lowest to highest, and it rates each component either above average, average, or below average. The paper lists a number of ways in which all three components can be improved, should they receive a low rating.

Things That Do and Don’t Matter When It Comes to the Quality of Your Ad

The paper provides a brief list of things that do and don’t matter in ad quality and elaborates on each one. Among the things that do matter are what device the user employs and how relevant the ad is the user’s intentions; things that don’t matter include the advertiser’s account’s structure and where the ad is placed on a page.

Google admits that improving the way ad effectiveness is calculated is a constant work in progress, which is why Quality Score is called a “guide” and not a “precise metric.”

For a copy of the white paper, click here.