New landing page quality score could affect click aribtrage publishers

The official AdWords blog just updated to include new information about their landing page quality scoring system, where advertisers whose ads lead to a “poor user experience” on the landing page could see their minimum bid prices hiked up in the coming days. The goal is to provide a better user experience for those who click the ads, with Google saying there will only be a “small number” of advertisers who will be affected.

Who will be the small number affected? I suspect the first to be targeted will be those whose landing pages consist of nothing but ads (or very little other than the ads), whether they are running Yahoo Content Match, YPN, or AdSense. These pages – also known as “Made for AdSense” or “MFA”s, even though AdSense is not the only advertising network used by these types of sites – have long been discussed as providing a poor user experience when a visitor ends up on the landing page. As well, these advertisers often bid minimum bids for their ads, as well as advertising on the Content Network, leading other quality publishers to complain about these poor quality advertisers.

From the AdWords blog:

As you may recall, we began incorporating advertiser landing page quality into the Quality Score back in December 2005. Following that change, advertisers who are not providing useful landing pages to our users will have lower Quality Scores that in turn result in higher minimum bid requirements for their keywords. We realize that some minimum bids may be too high to be cost-effective — indeed, these high minimum bids are our way of motivating advertisers to either improve their landing pages or to simply stop using AdWords for those pages, while still giving some control over which keywords to advertise on. Although it is counter-intuitive to some who hear it, we’d rather show one less ad than to show an ad which leads to a poor user experience — since long-term user trust in AdWords is of overarching importance.

From time-to-time, we improve our algorithms for evaluating landing page quality (often based on feedback from our end-users), and next week we’re launching another such improvement. Thus, over the coming days a small number of advertisers who are providing a low quality user experience on their landing pages will see increases in their minimum bids. It is important to note, however, that the vast majority of advertisers will not be affected at all by this change, as they link to quality landing pages.

If you do see an increase in minimum bids and you feel that your landing page is providing a great user experience, please contact AdWords support and we’ll take a look. Also, for useful guidelines which will help to define what users look for in a high quality site, we hope you’ll take a look at the landing page and site quality guidelines, from the AdWords Help Center.

So, if you are a quality publisher, how will this affect you? Well, if you tend to see an abundance of “Made for AdSense” sites appearing in your ad units, you just might start earning more money for those clicks. And if you have amassed a collection of 200 URLs in your filter list, you might want to consider removing some of them you added because they were MFAs, if many publishers report a rise in EPC.

On the flip side, however, many of those low quality advertisers might pull their ad campaigns completely, if the new minimum bid price for each keyword phrase does not make it profitable to continue advertising based upon the ROI of their own landing pages. And then they could start using more Yahoo or Microsoft for their ads, meaning YPN publishers could see an influx of these types of ads, and it could plague Microsoft ContentAds when it launches their publisher program.

What about publishers who are using AdWords for click arbitrage to their AdSense landing pages? Well, many of these publishers who had AdSense on their landing pages had to deal with the impact smart pricing was suspected to have on their EPC. Now, a raised minimum bid price on each clickthrough to their site could also result in lower profits, and might make it completely unprofitable for some arbitragers, depending how just how high that minimum bid could be raised from where it currently is for those in this market area. And some could see their entire marketing plan go out the window if a significant portion of their profits are tied to Google through click arbitrage.

As these minimum bids start to rise, it will be interesting to learn just how much they will be rising for those with lower quality landing pages. And depending on where you sit on the issue, this decision could be the best thing AdWords could have done, or the worst thing they could have done to your profits.

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11 comments to New landing page quality score could affect click aribtrage publishers

  • How do I know if an ad is an MFA? I can’t click on them or else I’d incur a penatly (like getting kicked out of Adsense).

  • There are a few ways. The easiest is to download the AdSense Preview Tool and set it to your geolocation. Then right click the page where you see the ad, select the preview tool, and it will list the ads on the page. Then you can click within the preview tool to go to the landing page of any ad, without worrying about clicking on your own ads.

    You can also right click and extract the URL from the string, but be careful you don’t accidentily click, or use the entire Google link to visit the page.

    You can also just use the visible URL you see in the ad unit for the ad, but not all ad unit sizes allow you to see the URL, and you might not see the exact landing page, as the visible URL might be but the actual URL is

  • Ad Arbitrage May Be Impacted by New AdWords Changes

    Jennifer Slegg, the contextual advertising correspondent for Search Engine Watch, reports on her blog that arbitragers could take a hit from Google’s upcoming AdWords Quality Score algorithm update.

  • Jen, when are you going to finally come clean and admit that you are a Google employee?

    Why keep up the charade any longer?

  • It seems this is good news for publishers. It will increase the ammount of money we make. No more penny clicks. I hope.

  • chikung

    Dear Jen,

    I tried downloading last two audio files but both the files are stopped after downloading 99%. Is there any problem on the site?

  • You can use

    They work well for me, but you need to update them regularly, probably once every two weeks.

  • Google got me on this one, not sure why. I was offering a free service monetized with ads. Moving on with MAC, and YSM.

  • Does arbitage still work anyway?

  • steve

    Running off customers is never a good business strategy for any company and I’m sure yahoo search marketing execs are high fiving each other right now and picking out villas in the Greek Isles. I didn’t want to say anything, but that emperor is butt naked. While I was put off by this (I am a shameless internet oppourtunist, after all) I have devised a strategy that may turn this into the best thing ever for my online profiteering, although a serious set back for a very sucessfull set of campaigns that I had hoped would last a little longer. I wonder if Google realizes what they are doing? All I have to do is change my perspective a little bit and I can still use adwords to aid my own filthy, low brow affilate cash stacking , this time with less competition, and they will have less money overall. Maybe I’m wrong and they will double thier revenue and their shareholders will be rejoicing and naming thier newborn sons after their deaf-mute cofounder (ever see that guy in an interview? Whats-his-name, the one who won’t talk?) but the likelyhood of this being great for Google’s earnings, are not so good. CTR after all is an objective way to determine “qauilty” but some super secret algo make Google look pontificating, removing all doubt about thier rumored self righteousness. What were they thinking?

  • chip

    I was one of those “small number” of advertisers that was hit big time by this. I do not run Adsense anywhere on my web site and I have less than 10 affiliate ads scattered throughout my site.

    I’m not sure why I was hit by this, I contacted G and they were of little help, only saying that one of my landing pages had little content (true because it is mostly a coded search form).

    What is a reputable site operator to do?