Oh AdWords, You Need My Help

AdWords announced today (via Google+ so they’d be sure many people saw it!) some changes to the way Quality Score will be reported going forward. Ok, no problem. It’s your platform, you should make whatever changes or updates you think make it better, both internally and for your customers. I have no beef with that.

But the announcement itself? Good lord. It was so poorly crafted that it created unnecessary questions. Let me show you the original text and how it could have been written to avoid confusion.

I want to be clear – I do not have any inside information on exactly what these changes are. That is not really my point here. My point is more that writing and disseminating clear statements is crucial and this one, is certainly not clear.

Original text (post can be found here)

Starting today, we will be updating how we report 1-10 Quality Scores for keywords [https://goo.gl/c4Oi7]. This update only affects reporting. There is no change to ad serving such as how auction-time quality signals affect Ad Rank and CPC. The most significant part of the change is that keywords without traffic will now, by default, receive a score of 6, and Average for the three components of Quality Score. Once keywords gather enough impressions, scores will update about a day or so later.

Behind the scenes, this change will allow us to simplify some of our core systems, letting us focus our attention on improving reporting accuracy for keywords with traffic.

It seems straightforward, but let’s look at the specific phrasing:

“The most significant part of the change is that keywords without traffic will now, by default, receive a score of 6, and Average for the three components of Quality Score. Once keywords gather enough impressions, scores will update about a day or so later.” (Emphasis mine).

This sentence alludes to more than just a single change being implemented, yet there is no detail about what other changes are included in this update. If you don’t plan to discuss any further detail of this “behind the scenes” change, then don’t use language that talks about additional changes. It should have been phrased thusly to avoid inevitable questions:

Keywords without traffic will now automatically receive a default Quality Score of 6. This score will remain in place until the keyword generates enough impressions for an actual Quality Score rating to be achieved. Timeline for actual Quality Score updating may vary, but generally should occur within about one day of the term accruing traffic.

Next confusing bit:

“Behind the scenes, this change will allow us to simplify some of our core systems, letting us focus our attention on improving reporting accuracy for keywords with traffic.”

First question in my mind upon reading this was just how inaccurate are the Quality Score reported figures now? I know that Quality Score is a topic with many differing points of view, but we can all agree that it does, in a very real way, impact account performance and it certainly impacts what you will pay for clicks. So, that being the case, perhaps this would have been more clear if written like this:

Our goal, as always, is to continually improve our internal system so that we are providing the most accurate data to our advertisers. We know that Quality Score is one of the ways our advertisers receive feedback from AdWords about how we view their campaign set up and performance. By assigning a default value to terms without traffic, we are able to better concentrate our resources to provide better data more quickly for terms that are currently generating impressions and clicks.

Now wouldn’t this type of statement been less confusing?

I’m available AdWords. You know where to find me next time you’re crafting announcement text!

What are your thoughts on this topic? Both the substance of the announcement and the way it was presented? Sound off in the comments or hit me up on Twitter (@NeptuneMoon).

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