Big news on the AdCenter front this week: Microsoft announced that quality scores are coming to the Bing + Yahoo search marketplace. Quality scores have been a necessary evil in Google for years now, but getting them in AdCenter is a big step forward in Microsoft copying…excuse me, “competing” with Google in the PPC marketplace.
Details are still pretty sparse at this point, but there are a couple of similarities between Google’s quality score and the one proposed by AdCenter. Both are on a scale of 1-10, both rate their scores on similar factors (marketplace competition, keyword relevance, landing page relevance, user experience), and both allow you to see the quality score in your web UI and reporting. However, there is one key point in Microsoft’s offering that seems to differ from Google’s quality score:
“Actionable guidance will be provided to optimize and improve your quality score”
This has always been my gripe with Google quality score. Every keyword gets an arbitrary number, calculated with arcane means, with no real feedback on how to improve it. I’ve moved keywords from one ad group to another, using more relevant keywords in a group, better text ads, and an identical landing page, and even seen QS drop. One might explain this away by saying it’s a lack of keyword history that’s bringing me down, but I think that Google’s algorithm for calculating quality score is way too buggy. Machines still aren’t perfect at determining keyword relevance, so there’s bound to be a lot of mistakes that are costing advertisers a lot of money. Of course, Google has no incentive to fix this, since lower QS = higher CPC = more money for Google.
Now that I’ve gotten my usual “Google is out to get your money” rant out of the way, let me take my tinfoil hat off for a second and tip it to the folks at AdCenter that realize advertisers need more transparency into the quality score calculation process. Unless you realize which factor is bringing your quality score down, there’s no way you can take action to improve it. Better quality scores mean more relevant ads on the search results, higher CTR, and more effective campaigns for advertisers. It’s a win/win between the advertiser and the PPC marketplace. I really hope this trend of transparency in quality scoring catches on. It’s a hell of a lot easier than running strange experiments to diagnose and fix your inscrutable quality scores in Google.
There’s no word yet on when exactly quality scores will start appearing in AdCenter, but Microsoft’s announcement does mention this spring. So expect to see them around sometime in the next couple of months.