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Quality Score: Less Effective by The Day

Published: December 11, 2008

Author: David Rodnitzky


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.

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