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Early Read on Google’s Quality Score Changes

Google released their Quality Score Changes early last week. Based on some early results we’re seeing minimal effects. "First Page Bid" (FPB) is often acting much like the old "Inactive for Search". There were 3 changes in all, summarized in a previous post, but generally speaking it boils down to the following comparison: (new) User-Specific Keyword Quality Score and FPB, compared to (old) Static Keyword Quality Score and Minimum Bid (Inactive for Search). Based on that comparison, here’s what’s playing out in the data:
  1. Ads shown for Broad Match search results; a real possibility (for better or worse)
  2. Limited number of ads now shown for Exact Match search results
For example, take the hypothetical keyword "ford f150 pickup", and let’s assume Google has determined that your keyword’s quality score and bid places you below their required First Page bid minimum. A prospective shopper searches for ‘ford f150 pickup truck’. Under the previous rules of ‘inactive for search’, your ad would have been excluded from the search results. Under the new FPB regime, your ad may now show for your keyword ‘ford f150 pickup’. Whether you would have preferred that the phrase remained ‘inactive for search’ and did not receive this broad match traffic is still unknown. We recommend keeping a close eye on conversion-rate data by actual user query, to gauge the impact of Google’s changes. We’re also seeing a small amount of exact match results on Google.com and their partner networks, such as AOL.com. That is to say a search for ‘ford f150 pickup’ may now display your ad for your keyword ‘ford f150 pickup’ even though it did not meet FPB minimum bid requirements. We can only assume that the bid and quality score for the individual user is high enough to display the ad under the new First Page minimum bid qualification, now that quality score is determined by user specific data vs keyword static data. Albeit small in most cases, this is traffic that was not being received until last week, so we similarly recommend keeping it on your radar. (Full details of Google’s Quality Score Changes) All-in-all, we’re not yet seeing many significant differences in Google’s self-proclaimed "quality score improvements". Short of the two scenarios outlined above, first page bid and inactive for search are operating in much the same manner. We, like many other agencies and advertisers, have asked Google to include detailed information about keyword quality score and estimated first page bid to their API and AdWords interface reporting. Giving agencies and advertiser more detailed information, allows them make smart, informed decisions. They’ve assured us those details are coming soon. Thanks, Google! We’ll keep watching…
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