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Benjamin Ling: Google Checkout Has No Direct Influence on Adwords Quality Score

I had an interview this evening with Benjamin Ling, Product Lead for Google Checkout, preparing for an upcoming column in Catalog Success (I write their e-commerce column every other month). Benjamin was friendly, forthright, and generous with his time. While the bulk of the interview will inform the print article, a couple points merited a short blog post:
  • Ben was quick to point out that (in his view) Google Checkout isn't a payment type, but rather a checkout process. It wraps actual payment types (Visa, Amex, Mastercard, Discover); more payment types are possible. PayPal and BillMeLater were mentioned in this regard.
  • Ben repeated the "fast, convenient, and safe" mantra several times as the justification for and the guiding principles of Google Checkout. He suggested Checkout could save a user 75% to 90% of the typical checkout time.
  • Ben stated unambiguously that the checkout icon ("badge") had no impact on the AdWords Quality Score algorithm. That is, Ben stated Google does not "cook" AdWords rankings to promote Checkout merchants. "The algorithm was not altered in any way," he stressed.
  • Ben went on to say that the presence of the badge can anecdotally increase CTR and thus increase QS. (To me this is fair and not "cooking" the rankings, as the change is based on user behavior, not Google promoting their own service.) He said it was still too early to have firm data on typical CTR lifts from the badge.
Many thanks to Benjamin for his time and insights.
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