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MSN adCenter – Bid Higher!!!

adCenter had an interesting post in their community blog recently, titled “The High Cost of Low Bids: One of the Biggest Logical Errors PPC Managers Make.” It sort of verifies an old strategy of bid high to start in order to establish a higher quality score. Although the author seems to imply that maintaining a high position will continue to benefit you by raising your quality score.

You probably would never see someone from Google write a post like this. Not because it’s untrue, but because it is bad policy. An ideal quality score algorithm would be independent of bids or position. i.e. an ad, no matter what it’s exposure, should have the same quality score (given the same geo-location, query match, and some other qualifying factors that are basically not relevant to the point). A perfect normalizing algorithm would be able to score an ad the same no matter what position it is in, because the characteristics that are relevant to ad quality have only to do with the ad’s properties and a user’s query.  Granted there may be difficulty for a computer to score an ad at first because there isn’t enough click data to make a statistically good judgement of quality, possibly leaving your ad in a no-man’s land longer if your ad position is lower and not getting a whole lot of clicks. However, estimations from account performance or similar ads, whether they belong to you or competitors, ought to help iron that out. How much you bid ought not be a significant factor into ad quality, and penalizing ads that have lower bids is not a good policy.

The logical error being made here lies with the writer of MSN’s post. He isn’t seeing the very obvious implications of his post that would meet a lot of resistance from advertisers, if adCenter was a larger advertising program. This post by Microsoft is an admission that their quality score algorithm is not very good. If your concern is rewarding more relevant ads, it doesn’t make sense to keep a well written, relevant ad in a low quality bracket because bids are low.

I personally believe that one of the biggest factors into ad quality is probably these position normalizing algorithms.  Since they are out of the control of the advertiser, non-transparent, and potentially damning to a pay per click program if much information is revealed about their actual calculations, they don’t get a lot of focus.

MSN’s post verifies what advertisers shouldn’t be very happy with – how much you’re willing to bid will affect your ad’s quality rating.

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About Steve Loszewski

Steve Loszewski leads the paid search team at Pure Visibility. He is individually qualified in AdWords, has the Google Analytics Individual Qualification, is an Oracle Database 10g Administrator Certified Associate, and is a Sun Certified Programmer for the Java Platform SE 6. Steve has been managing AdWords accounts since 2005 and also has experience in SEO. Most of his time is spent in the trenches, working with keywords, ads, bids, landing pages, placements, etc within the AdWords Interface. You can find him on Google+.

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