Scoring Google on quality: C

Google has an uncanny ability to envelope the vast sea of rules, regulations and restrictions it imposes on its advertisers within a touted mantra that 'relevant advertising can be as useful as search results' for users.

 UPDATE: Under the guise of "transparency," the AdWords Blog puts forth a page of "Quality Score updates," making Google search advertising an even more costly Pandora's (black) box. Google itself unwittingly reveals the true objective of its AdWords "quality" initiative: "Quality Score, which sets minimum bids for your keywords." Moreover, businesses must still prove to Google's profit satisfaction that propsective ads are "eligible" for display.

DECEMBER 26, 2006: In “The Google riddle: ‘organized’, ‘useful’ but impossible to comprehend” I dissect Google’s cheery “Welcome to AdWords” marketing speak, challenging Google’s assertions that “AdWords puts you in complete control of your spending.”

Google search advertising is a costly Pandora’s box that continuously increases in complexity, opaqueness and Google centricity.

Google has an uncanny ability to envelope the vast sea of rules, regulations and restrictions it imposes on its advertisers within a touted mantra that “relevant advertising can be as useful as search results” for users.

Just as Google’s core corporate mission statement—organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful—is presented as user-centric while neglecting to include the Google-centric core for profit ad serving corporate mission, Google’s AdWords pronouncements put forth “worthy” user-focused objectives that belie Google’s self-interested financial motivations:

Google's maximization group works with advertisers to improve clickthrough rates over the life of a campaign, because high clickthrough rates are an indication that ads are relevant to a user's interests.

AND high clickthrough rates benefit Google’s bottom-line.

The modus operandi supporting the Google AdWords money making machine is a phenomenon, or “inedit,” in French: Unheard of!

Traditionally, and still, in many lucrative advertising venues, advertisers are courted and catered to. In the Google 50%+ search market share world, however, it is the advertising vehicle, not the advertising client, that must be catered to.

While all media platforms exercise editorial controls over advertising placements within their advertising vehicles, Google has unilaterally turned the tables to its unique advantage. The Google medium not only dictates its advertising pricing scheme and the content of ads it accepts to place, it amazingly wields significant influence on the content of its clients’ proprietary Websites as well.

Google grades advertisers’ attempts to buy Google AdWords with a Google “Quality Score.” If a prospective AdWords ad does not make the Google grade, Google will disallow the purchase.

Google, non-conclusively, on its “Quality Score”:

Currently, the formula is best represented as: Quality Score = (keyword's CTR, ad text relevance, keyword relevance, landing page relevance)*

*Where the interactions between the Quality Score variables change as we continue to refine how to measure and define quality in AdWords.

A keyword's Quality Score directly affects your keyword's status and your related ad's pricing and position on a given page.

It seems counterintuitive for an advertising medium to integrate a robust advertising rejection platform into its business model, but Google proudly underscores it “has chosen to ignore conventional wisdom in designing its business.”

Although Google says its mission is to organize all the world’s information and make it universally accessible, Google will not make a prospective advertiser’s information accessible to the world unless the AdWords ad will provide Google with its desired profit margin:

Keyword State - Inactive for Search: A keyword marked inactive for search doesn't have a high enough Quality Score and maximum cost-per-click (CPC) to trigger ads on Google or the search network. This means your keyword's maximum CPC doesn't meet the minimum bid required to trigger ads. Inactive keywords aren't performing well.

For all of Google’s talk of “quality,” the Google bottom line is that higher cost-per-click bids win the privilege of buying ads from Google.

ALSO: Google’s Silence