In July 2005, AdWords introduced minimum bids for keywords based on Quality Score. This system allows us to show very high quality ads to Google users, while also giving advertisers control over their keywords.
Since 2005, we've improved Quality Score in many ways, such as the inclusion of landing page quality and landing page load time as factors. Along the way, we've also received much helpful feedback from both users and advertisers.
Today, we'd like to let you know of further improvements we'll introduce in the coming weeks -- based, in part, on this feedback. First we'll outline the key points, and then dive into the details:
Quality Score will now be more accurate because it will be calculated at the time of each search query
Keywords will no longer be marked 'inactive for search'
'First page bid' will replace 'minimum bid' in your account
A more accurate Quality Score
Most importantly, we are replacing our static per-keyword Quality Scores with a system that will evaluate an ad's quality each time it matches a search query. This way, AdWords will use the most accurate, specific, and up-to-date performance information when determining whether an ad should be displayed. Your ads will be more likely to show when they're relevant and less likely to show when they're not. This means that Google users are apt to see better ads while you, as an advertiser, should receive leads which are more highly qualified.
Keywords no longer marked 'inactive for search'
The new per-query evaluation of Quality Score affects you in that keywords will no longer appear as 'inactive for search' in your account. Instead, all keywords will have the chance to show ads on Google web search and the search network (unless you've paused or deleted them). Keep in mind, however, that keywords previously marked 'inactive for search' are not likely to accrue a great deal of traffic following this change. This is because their combined per-query Quality Score and bid probably isn't high enough to gain competitive placement.
'First page bid' will replace 'minimum bid'
As a result of migrating to per-query Quality Score, we are no longer showing minimum bids in your account. Instead, we're replacing minimum bids with a new, more meaningful metric: first page bids. First page bids are an estimate of the bid it would take for your ad to reach the first page of search results on Google web search.
They're based on the exact match version of the keyword, the ad's Quality Score, and current advertiser competition on that keyword. Based on your feedback, we learned that knowing your minimum bid wasn't always helpful in getting the ad placement you wanted, so we hope that first page bids will give you better guidance on how to achieve your advertising goals.
It's worth mentioning that the impact of these changes will vary from advertiser to advertiser; some might see no changes to their ad serving, while others may see a noticeable difference. As always, we recommend optimizing ads to prevent them from receiving a low Quality Score.
Putting it all together
Here's an example to illustrate how per-query Quality Score works:
Nancy's Dairy advertises on the keyword 'milk.' Nancy's ads perform better on the keyword 'milk' in the U.S. than in Canada. Her ads also perform better on the query 'milk delivery' than on 'milk,' and better on certain search network sites than on others.
Instead of one static Quality Score and minimum bid that determines whether the keyword 'milk' is eligible to trigger an ad for all search queries, we will now determine eligibility dynamically, based on factors such as location, the specific query, and other relevance factors. For that reason, Nancy's keyword 'milk' will be able to trigger an ad for search queries where it's likely to perform better, i.e., in the U.S., on 'milk delivery' and on certain search network sites.
We're working to update the AdWords API and AdWords Editor so that, in the future, they will support first page bids. Until then, both the AdWords API and AdWords Editor will continue to show the minimum bid field. However, the information shown in this field will be based on the new per-query Quality Score. You may keep current with upcoming API releases on the API Blog and learn about upcoming AdWords Editor releases via the AdWords Editor Forum.
Finally, please note that we'll release these Quality Score changes to a very small segment of advertisers within the next day or two, so that we can gather feedback before launching to all our advertisers. We will, of course, post again in advance of the time that these changes go live for everyone.
In the meantime, please see this comprehensive list of frequently asked questions for more information.
Posted by Trevor Claiborne, Inside AdWords crew