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.