AdWords: Getting to know Ad Rank & Quality Score

Google AdWords offers a great platform for advertising to targeted online audiences. Google has lead the way in creating a system that not only generates not-too-annoying or intrusive adverts, but also allows advertisers to hone in and focus on the right search user segments. AdWords offers two primary channels to advertise on – the Google search network, and the gigantic Google display network (GDN). One produces advertising based on the search user’s input as to what they are looking for online. The later typically provides contextual advertising on 3rd party websites and shows text or image advertisements.

To ensure a level of quality, and uphold that not-too-annoying threshold, Google evaluates advertisements in a number of highly intelligent ways. It is important to understand how this evaluation works to ensure your AdWords advertising is efficient (cost-wise) and effective (click-wise).

Your ad position and predominance is reliant on Ad Rank. This is a formula that incorporates your bid, your adverts quality and relevancy, and a few other factors including ad extensions. An important component to this is your adverts Quality Score. Here’s the breakdown:

For the Search Network

Quality Score = Relevancy of adverts + keywords targeted + Advert extensions + the quality of the referred landing page (of the advertiser, or target website if you will).

You have the potential to deliver your advertisement on the search network above someone bidding more (CPC) than you, by understanding and taking advantage of the Quality Score criteria:

For the Display Network

On the display network, Google’s methodology of ranking advertisement’s is differentiated and it is based on:

Ad Rank = Your bid & bidding style (CPC or CPM) + referred landing page quality + the adverts historical performance.

It is important to note that on the Google Display Network, the historical performance includes how well your advert has performed on specific placements (websites). As display network advertising attributes a more visual means to attract clicks, there is a greater reliance on past advert performance. Your bidding style will impact on your prevalence. This is because  CPM targets mass exposure (branding), while CPC targets website traffic and conversion goals.

It is also important to ensure that your contextual targeting is based on keywords likely to be found in content (on web-pages) of placements (website’s you’d like your advertisement to appear on). Assuming that keyword targeting for GDN advertising is driven by search queries is incorrect and will result in poor performing Google AdWords campaigns.

In Summary

In both cases, click through rate (CTR) is important. So whether you focus on Google AdWords advertising on the Search Network or Display Network it is key to ensure you are monitoring, evaluating and acting on your advertisement’s CTR performance.

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