Quality Score is Busted Again: Don’t Change Your Bids

8 Comments Written on November 23rd, 2010 by
Categories: Analytics, Google Adwords

UPDATE: Things appear to be returning to normal as of about 10am PDT today (Nov. 24th).  Our members are reporting that their scores and minimum bid amounts have gone from 3’s and 4’s to 7’s and 10’s sometime through the night.  Certainly a relief.  Hopefully the advertisers who jacked their bids as a result of this will bring them back down to earth soon and normalize the auction again.

This is getting kind of ridiculous:

Not only was the last Quality Score “malfunction” not completely fixed (going back all the way to October), but it’s happening all over again, and right before the busiest online sales weekend of the year. Add to that that this has been happening again for over 48 hours now.

Google’s channels for communicating with advertisers on these huge issues is also broken. Why not put an announcement in the Adwords UI? They’re simply tweeting (two days late) and posting randomly in their Adwords support forums, “Adwords Pros” are contradicting one another in the same threads, and then they come back and post stuff like this:

Adwords Pro:

Although I posted with essentially the same message yesterday, I think it’s best that I re-post now – as there have been many posts since then, and the message could be easily missed.

Bottom line, I do not yet have concrete information as to what is occurring, and I have learned never to make predictions or guesses as to what might be occurring, or regarding a time-to-resolution. Going even further, I will typically not say that something is resolved until many hours after I’ve heard a formal ‘all clear’ from the engineering teams.

With all that said, I would again advise everyone to focus on their core metrics (CTR, CPC, and etc) and to not make changes to their account based on an unexpected change to their quality score. In fact, as a general rule I’d say that core metrics are the single most accurate depiction of performance – and the first place one should look if they notice Quality Score changes.

I will certainly keep this thread updated when I have concrete information to report. And, again, I apologize on behalf of Google for the uncertainty and upset.



It might be true that quality score numbers aren’t the be-all/end-all, but minimum first page bid estimates are definitely a major decision point for most advertisers.

Add to that that you’d have no idea that this whole ‘malfunction’ wasn’t your fault and doesn’t demand your immediate action if you weren’t constantly trolling Google’s support forum for news.

Here’s the big problem though: For those who have no idea that this is a Google error, they WILL raise their bids and they WILL screw up the entire auction! Again: right before the busiest shopping weekend of the year.

So whether or not the “system” is serving ads normally, there’s a thousands and thousands of human beings bidding for placement that will most definitely change the reality of ad serving.

The damage is likely already done here, and once again Google ends up on the winning side with what will will amount to a nice bump in holiday PPC revenue.

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8 comments “Quality Score is Busted Again: Don’t Change Your Bids”

Sucks because now ALL the advertisers are raising their bids. My avg. CPC has doubled. *sigh*

I agree.  It makes me wonder if they were going to have a shortfall in their revenue targets.  We have often joked around here that Google could easily adjust their revenue by turning a knob that changes the number of ads shown per search.

Their “search preview” already removes the right-most ads from being displayed, which makes people have to bid up to get top visibility on a query.  (not that the #1 position wasn’t already reason enough)

It’s more than a bit ridiculous for Google to tell us not to worry about a metric that they created and score us against, no in some abstract way, but in a way that costs us real cash. I’m glad my clients aren’t retailers, because letting this happen during the holiday shopping season is absurd.

[quote]It’s more than a bit ridiculous for Google to tell us not to worry about a metric that they created and score us against, not in some abstract way, but in a way that costs us real cash.[/quote] I couldn’t agree more, Peter – But I think they’d likely just tell you to either increase broad match, or just turn over account management to make sure you’re doing all you can. Yow.

We still see this problem through all our international bid management customers. Maybe Google re-trains their Algorithms, finding the new quality score for all advertisers? At least the behaviour are similar to what you see as new advertiser.

we analyzed this based on 10k campaigns from our customers (different verticals and countries):
– Oct 27th: issue occured first time, this year- Oct 27th till Nov 19th: issue was not really fixed, only reduced by half- Nov 19th/20th: issue occured second time- Nov 24th: Now fixed for all accounts- Nov 25th: google confirms this ‘issue’ in the adwords forum and that it is fixed- Interesting: Same „bug“ occured last year; Oct 30th – unusual for a ‘bug’
So the question is bug or major QS update, maybe both? Anyhow currently the issue is fixed. For further information you can check: http://www.intelliad.de/en/company/press/quality-score.html

We will publish an update of the chart on Monday.

Google are basically a bunch of thieving, iniquitous, immoral mother f#@kers…….They keep biting the hand that feeds them and in the long term this will be their ultimate undoing. I know of no-one who has one ounce of brand loyalty to advertising with Google – as and when alternatives become viable (and they surely will before too long) I for one will drop them like a stone.

Has anyone noticed that ads now show up for the wrong
keywords and its impossible to fix the problem.  I have
campaigns that have been running flawlessly for years, dominating
AdWords rankings across the board and now I cannot even get ads to
show up on the page, or when they do show up its being pulled on a
broad match by a keyword that is matched with a ad that does not
make sense for the search query.  I have had this happen is
several accounts all within the past few weeks.

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