31 May 2011

Microsoft adCenter Quality Scores

As part of the quest for providing users with a great search experience, Microsoft released their new formula for calculating adCenter's keyword quality score (QS), and it differs greatly from Google AdWords' approach.

Though AdWords keeps some components for calculating keyword quality-score under wraps, users know that there are several factors that Google takes into account when finding this handy number. Some of those factors include account history, measured by the CTR of the ads and keywords in a user's unique account, historical CTR of the keyword and the matched ad on Google, the historical CTR of display URLs in an ad group, landing page quality and the keyword relevance to the ads in its ad group, just to name a few. The aforementioned criteria, along with Google's secret other relevance factors are then used to rate an ad's keyword on a scale of (1-10) with 10 being the highest quality score, which in turn directly affects ad positioning and CPC.

Now, adCenter has cut these factors down to calculate keyword quality using only three criteria: Keyword relevance (ranked by Bing as good, no problem, or poor), Landing page relevance (ranked as no problem, poor) and Landing page user experience (ranked as no problem, poor). The ranks are basically nametags for quality score ranges; Poor serving a QS less than 5, No Problem serving a QS of 5-8, and Good serving a QS of 9-10. 

Though Bing and Google both rate their quality scores on a scale of 1-10, the similarities stop there. Because the factors being used to calculate these scores are different, the purposes for finding these QS's are different as well. AdCenter's keyword QS shows the competitiveness of campaigns throughout the overall Marketplace, helping advertisers discover where they stack up against competitors in regards to landing page experience and keyword relevancy.

While adCenter's keyword QS's do not directly affect ad rank, advertisers can use deductive reasoning to help improve their overall quality score, and in turn improve their ad position. In other words, the job of influencing ad rank lands in the hands of advertisers for adCenter users. Comparatively, AdWords' keyword quality score directly influences that ad rank, rather than just providing feedback to advertisers on how to improve it.

The biggest difference to remember here is that Google's QS directly influences ad rank, while Microsoft/Bing's does not. That being said, even though the specific purposes of the AdWords and adCenter calculations are different, the end goal for users is ultimately the same. That goal is to create a focused and accurate optimized search experience for the user, and through creating that streamlined experience, improve the ad rank, CTR and CPC. Now advertisers on adCenter can choose to have a more hands on approach to improving that number. Introducing a new way to calculate QS will only help in the long run, so click around and make the choice for yourself.