SES NYC Session: Ads in a Quality Score World
My first session at SES NYC was, overall, a cut above many of the sessions I’ve attended at SES in the past. Reason being, there was some good takeaway advice & reinforcement for attendees, and the panelists shed a great deal of light on the subject via real-world examples… always a plus.
For the uninitiated – “Quality Score” refers to the ‘black box’ behind the way that ads are ranked & displayed on search results pages. Basically -the major search ad platforms (engines) have all gotten away from pure bid-for-rank placement and focused on delivering the most relevant ads to searchers by combining several factors including: cost-per-click, click through rate, perceived relevance, conversion and other factors. As speaker Joshua Stylman of Reprise Media pointed out – this allows search advertisers to put the “M” back into SEM (Search Engine Marketing) by focusing on more traditional advertising best practices like messaging, relevance, delivery, etc.
Within the industry, complaints have arisen over the impact of testing & pre-qualifying clicks via ad copy on quality score. Basically, if you’re an advertiser who’s testing different ad copy, landing pages, etc – your click through rate may suffer as you work out the kinks. The result may be a poor quality score, which will inevitably suppress your ads, increase your cost-per-click, etc. Based on experience, my impression is that this is absolutely true, but the engine reps in attendance repeatedly stated that testing was not penalized but highly encouraged. The rest of the panelists agreed that focusing on holistic campaign management and improvements will yield better results.
The upshot of the session was to “ignore the score” when developing campaigns and focus on the end-user throughout (keyword, ad copy, relevance, landing page, conversion). This isn’t really earth-shattering to us at Amplify-Interactive, we’ve practiced & preached these principles for a long time. However, the discussion made me realize that it’s absolutely appropriate and imperative to reinforce these principles when engaging with our clients, and to talk about quality score as the reason we do things the way we do them.