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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

AdWords Quality Score - Determined at the Keyword Level or Not?

AdWords users should be familiar with the quality score. According to Google the quality score is:

"the basis for measuring the quality of your keyword and determining your minimum bid. Quality Score is determined by your keyword's clickthrough rate (CTR) on Google, relevance of your ad text, historical keyword performance on Google, the quality of your ad's landing page, and other relevancy factors."

Since the quality score is used to help determine the minimum bid required to activate your keyword(s) it's arguably the most important element of an AdWords campaign. Despite it's importance quality score are never published - you can't login to your account and see what quality score has been assigned to your keyword(s). I think most advertisers would love to see exactly what there quality score is (I know I would) but have accepted the fact that Google will not make this information public.

I have been told on numerous occasions by my account rep at Google that the quality score is assigned at the keyword level and is independent of other keywords in that ad group or campaign. In other words, one poor quality score will not impact other keywords in your account that may have a better quality score. Seems reasonable/logical. While putting this post together I actually called to check again was told the same thing I've been told for nearly a year.

A few days ago I came across a post by Robert Cringely that among other things touched on the issue of the AdWords quality score. An overall informative article but what really caught my attention is the line bolded below:

"We have two concepts here -- a Quality Score for words and a History for campaigns. A low Quality Score can lead to an increase in minimum word price and a poor history (lots of low Quality Scores along with low clicks-through) can lead to minimum prices being raised not just for one word, but for all words. In the case of Luis, all this took place in three days and half a dozen words, which I'd hardly call much history, yet there is very little for him to do about it short of canceling his Google account and starting all over."

I've never seen any conclusive evidence that "one bad apple can spoil the bunch" and have been told on numerous occasions by Google that it doesn't work that way. If it did/does work that way - shit - I need to get busy reworking a few thousand campaigns which will turn into tens of thousands of campaigns after I split every keyword into it's own ad group.

The bottom line - advertisers have a right to know if poor performing keywords can or do have a financial impact on other keywords in their account(s).

Friday, May 26, 2006

Why does AdWords visit my ad's landing page?

To help determine how relevant your landing page is to the keywords you're bidding on. AdWords users who use the system like it was intended will love it, everyone else will hate it.

Why does AdWords visit my ad's landing page?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Google could care less about double serving

As long as the credit card of the offending party is not declined.

If you're an AdWords advertiser odds are you are aware of the double serving policy. In short, you are not supposed serve more than one ad for your product service. Some advertisers try and bypass this policy by creating multiple AdWords accounts and using various destination urls that are all owned by one company/individual. It's a policy that needs to be in place, and enforced. Without it we could end up with a single advertiser dominating the majority of ad positions in their respective market.

Over the past few months I've noticed more and more double (not to mention triple and quadruple) serving than I ever have before. What really caught my attention is that after I started watching it I realized that not only were new violations popping up daily, but old, reported violations were still alive and kicking months after they had been reported. Some that I noticed and reported 2+ months ago are still live as of right now. When I say I reported them I didn't just fire off an e-mail to some random Google address - I picked up the phone and called my rep and followed up with numerous e-mails. As of today, nothing has been done about any violation I've reported - ever.

I decided to test out for myself how easy it was to get around this policy - and guess what - it's easier than I thought. With a few hours work and the help of some friends we managed to lock up 6 paid ad spaces on Google's search results for multiple search terms. I kind of wanted to make it easy for people to catch it so we left the same company name and contact/copyright info clearly visible in the footer of all 6 landing pages. We kept it going for about 2 weeks and I have to admit I was bit surprised that we never heard a thing from Google.

Step two was to have someone report our violation - which we did - 4 times in 5 days. 3 weeks after the first report and not a single person from Google had contacted us. I honestly feel the only reason the ads are not running today is because we turned them off. Our little test had shown me all I needed to see.

I understand that people can and will bypass the system and try and play outside the rules. What I don't understand is why it appears that Google could care less about enforcing this policy after clear violations have been reported. I know they get paid regardless but come on - find the balance between profitability and maintaining the integrity of your advertising platform.

Has anyone ever reported a violation and actually had Google do something about it?

Click to Play Video Ads

I think this type of ad format will be pretty cool. My mind is already in motion thinking up the ways that advertisers will be able to leverage this ad format to their advantage. One can only hope that QC will be pretty tight with the approval process for these ads. The Internet has enough crappy video floating around as it is.

I'll post an update after the product is live and I've had a chance to review all the specifics.

One prediction I will make - within months of launch someone will sneak a porn or other questionable video ad through the system and Google will get hit with another lawsuit because of it.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

No AdCenter ads on MSN?

While there have been increases in traffic (impression and clicks) over the past few months I still feel AdCenter is not quite reaching its full potential. Could part of that be AdCenter's inability to show ads on search results every time someone searches?

Look at the results I'm being served this morning for "new car".

Not a single ad being displayed, and "new cars" isn't the only term I've noticed this on. I'm not sure how long it's been happening or if it's intentional. I started noticing it earlier this week and just thought it was fluke not worth mentioning. 4 days later though and I still am not being served ads every time I should be.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Yahoo Search Marketing Changes

I received an e-mail this morning announcing some changes to Yahoo Search Marketing. There are quite a few changes - I'm happiest to see:

"Fast Ad Activation
Most new ads will go online within minutes, allowing you to connect with customers quickly, and easily make changes to your ads whenever you need to."

Here's the complete e-mail:

"The New Sponsored Search is Coming

Better Ways to Connect with Customers Will Make Your Advertising More Effective

You've told us your needs and we've listened. A completely redesigned search marketing platform is on its way, full
of advanced, easy-to-use features that will help you better connect with Yahoo!'s vast and valuable audience.

As part of creating these enhancements, we met with advertisers of all sizes to hear first-hand the things they liked and didn't like about Sponsored Search. We extensively reviewed all parts of our service, including the design, features and tools. The result of these efforts is the new Sponsored Search, which will make its debut this Fall.

Powerful New Features
The new features that will make advertising with Yahoo! better and more effective include:

Easy-to-Use Control Panel
A completely redesigned, easy-to-navigate control panel will help you see what's working and what's not--at the level of detail you choose--so you can take action and get even better results.

Fast Ad Activation
Most new ads will go online within minutes, allowing you to connect with customers quickly, and easily make changes to your ads whenever you need to.

Ad Testing
Easily test multiple versions of an ad to find the message that works best for your customers and provides the greatest return on your advertising investment. You can then choose to shift impressions to the ad that performs best.

Display your ads broadly or narrow your geographic distribution to better target your customers, customize your ads and control your costs.

Campaign Budgeting, Forecasting and Scheduling
Create, budget and schedule individual advertising campaigns for greater control over your advertising strategy and spending. Review forecasts of your potential clicks based on your bids and budget and see how many clicks you're leaving to your competitors.

Understand how well your ads are performing relative to your competitors with the new Quality Index displayed for each ad. You'll also see the bid range necessary for premium placement at the top of the search results page.

Easy-to-Use Control Panel
A completely redesigned, easy-to-navigate control panel will help you see what's working and what's not--at the level of detail you choose--so you can take action and get even better results.

Thoroughly Tested and Reviewed by Your Peers
These new features have been rigorously tested by your fellow advertisers and refined over time to ensure that we delivered a service that successfully addresses the obstacles you currently face. Judging by the overwhelmingly positive feedback we've received, we are confident that the new Sponsored Search not only clears away those obstacles, but offers new and better ways to manage your account.

Frequent and Detailed Communication with You
Beginning next month, we'll begin to provide you with much more detailed information about all of the upcoming enhancements. To make your transition as smooth and easy as possible, we will provide:

A series of emails with tips on how best to prepare your account
In-depth articles on our new features in the advertiser newsletter
A new Yahoo! Search Marketing blog--a community forum for tips, news and your comments, as well as the inside scoop from our own staff, to help you be more successful

A dedicated toll-free phone number that will be available to you during your transition period, for any questions or concerns you may have
This is just the first step. After all advertisers have successfully transitioned to the new Sponsored Search, we plan to quickly introduce many more innovative products, features and tools that will give you even more ways to connect with customers.

As always, thank you for doing business with us. We look forward to delivering the new Sponsored Search to you later this year."

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Microsoft AdCenter for the Masses

No more waiting for invites...AdCenter (now renamed Microsoft AdCenter) is open to the general public.

Jump in, start bidding, and drive those keyword prices to the point of borderline profitability. It should be fun.

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