adCenter Quality Score to Debut this Spring

16 03 2011

Microsoft adCenter announced news last week of the arrival of the adCenter Quality Score, reportedly set to launch this spring.  With much speculation surrounding when this would eventually take place; it is surprising that it took approximately five and a half years for adCenter to publicly release a Microsoft counterpart to Google’s AdWords Quality Score.  Not to belabor the point, but AdWords released their first generation Quality Score in August of 2005.  Two-Thousand-Five.

Microsoft has also chosen to use Google’s “Quality Score” nomenclature for their new feature, raising speculation that it took adCenter this much time to develop a worthy equivalent.  And, perhaps they tried for several years to create a bigger and better version of Google’s Quality Score and just couldn’t come up with anything better (or with a better name) than a score ranked on a 1-10 scale.  In any case, the similarities between the AdWords Quality Score and to-be-released adCenter Quality Score should make it easier for advertisers to translate what they already know about Quality Score (helping gauge, improve and determine campaign, keyword, and landing page relevance) to adCenter.

Here are the details that Microsoft adCenter has released about their Quality Score:

  • Quality Score will be on a 1-10 scale, and be calculated at the keyword level for each match-type being purchased.
  • Scores are designed to represent how competitive your keyword is within the marketplace, with three sub-scores for keyword relevance, landing page relevance, and landing page user experience.
  • Actionable guidance will be provided to optimize and improve your quality score.
  • At launch, scores will be visible and exportable from the adCenter Web UI, and accessible through adCenter Reporting and Reporting APIs.

Additional Sub-Factors include:

  • Keyword Relevance – assessed on a scale of (Poor, No Problem, Good) and how well your keyword competes against others buying the same keyword.
  • Landing Page Relevance – assessed on a scale of (Poor, No Problem) and how relevant your ad and landing page is to the search query.
  • Landing Page User Experience – assessed on a scale of (Poor, No Problem) and whether your site meets adCenter editorial relevance and quality guidelines.

A notable difference between the two Quality Scores is how Microsoft is positioning their score as a “competitive feedback tool”, instead of being an actual score that helps determine ad rank and performance.  adCenter has officially noted that their Quality Score will NOT directly affect how ads rank and I’m guessing (because of that detail) won’t affect keyword bid estimates or the actual CPC, as AdWords’ does.  adCenter’s Quality Score is designed to tell advertisers how competitive their keywords are in the marketplace, whether or not they are positioned for success and how an advertiser can optimize appropriately to improve their Quality Score.

AdWords Quality Score on the other hand, does affect ad performance and influences how an ad ranks, the actual CPC an advertiser will pay and first page bid estimates.  Both scores are determined based on historical performance data.  While Microsoft has yet to be as transparent about what this historical performance data will be, advertisers familiar with AdWords Quality Score guidelines and formulas can guess that historical keyword CTR and historical account CTR will likely be determining factors.

As a PPC advertiser, I’m looking forward to seeing how adCenter’s new Quality Score will have an effect on ad performance for advertisers, since the score (at this point) does not influence how adCenter ads will rank or the actual CPC an advertiser will pay.  Here’s to hoping this tool will be used effectively by adCenter advertisers to better understand how to optimize and improve campaigns – resulting in improved performance!

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