I speculated a few months ago that an economic recession could lead to a decline in Google’s Quality Score standards. To put it bluntly, as Google’s ‘quality’ advertisers cut back spend, Google would have no choice but to let affiliates, MFAs, and the like back into the AdWords ranks.

Over the last few months, that is exactly what seems to be happening. The affiliates running faux blogs and “how does your IQ compare to Brett Favre’s IQ?” ads seem to be appearing more and more frequently. The quality bar has indeed been lowered, and I suspect will continue to remain low until the Countrywides and Walmarts of the world can afford to pay more per clicks again.

I found yet another example of Quality Score gone AWOL yesterday. I did a search for “Acai cookbook” (in case you are interested, my Mother has published such a book, hence the search) and got the following top three listings:

Basically the same exact ad text, taking a user to the same exact fake review/blog site, just with different URLs. This isn’t double-serving, it’s triple serving, and in a way that isn’t even attempting to veil it. Surely Google’s secret Quality Score algorithm could figure this out pretty quickly, that is, if it wanted to.

The problem, though, is that these advertisers are likely paying $5 or $6 a click for these ads, and there is no ‘legit’ advertiser with which to replace them. Apparently, desperate times call for desperate looking the other way. With Google’s stock already down about 70% from its high, quantity of ads and ad revenue is clearly more important that quality.


  1. searchquant December 12th, 2008

    AdGooroo put out data last week indicating that Google has increased ad coverage on first page SERPs from 2.4 ads/page to 4.4 between September and November.Given that Schmidt/Google have always said that reducing ads led to better quality and more revenues for Google, you have to wonder if they’re desperately trying to deal with the macro’s effect on their business.

  2. David Rodnitzky December 12th, 2008

    2.4 ads a page? Unless you are searching for something as obscure as say “blogation.net”, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything less than 8-10 ads on virtually every query since 2004! The broad match algo works, too well as a matter of fact!

Leave a Comment

David Rodnitzky
David Rodnitzky is founder and CEO of 3Q Digital (formerly PPC Associates), a position he has held since the Company's inception in 2008. Prior to 3Q Digital, he held senior marketing roles at several Internet companies, including Rentals.com (2000-2001), FindLaw (2001-2004), Adteractive (2004-2006), and Mercantila (2007-2008). David currently serves on advisory boards for several companies, including Marin Software, MediaBoost, Mediacause, and a stealth travel start-up. David is a regular speaker at major digital marketing conferences and has contributed to numerous influential publications, including Venture Capital Journal, CNN Radio, Newsweek, Advertising Age, and NPR's Marketplace. David has a B.A. with honors from the University of Chicago and a J.D. with honors from the University of Iowa. In his spare time, David enjoys salmon fishing, hiking, spending time with his family, and watching the Iowa Hawkeyes, not necessarily in that order.