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Two Adwords myths not to fall for

Two Adwords myths not to fall for

I have heard/read a few PPC account managers saying that bidding to position 1 will get you better quality clicks, or it will mean that you have a better quality score and many other claims.

The majority of the claims about adverts in position 1 I think are correct. But some jump to conclusions… let me show you what I mean.

"Bidding to position 1 will get you a better quality score"

“Adverts in position 1 get a better click through rate”

Yep, I would agree that over a long timespan with standard adverts, position 1 gets the best CTR.

However, this does not mean that “Bidding to position 1 will get you a better quality score”.

If we try and see it from this point of view and follow the logic this is what happens…


1. CTR is a factor in determining quality score

2. Position 1 gets a higher CTR

3. Therefore position 1 gets a higher quality score


Unfortunately there is an assumption made here. Whilst this all looks good when glanced at, once you start thinking about this it seems to be fundamentally broken and something Google wouldn’t do.

If this was true, adverts in lower positions would have worse quality scores simply because they are in the lower positions… So bid higher on a keyword triggering the same advert and you improve your quality score.

So this means that bid price is included in quality score.

All advertisers know that Google determines Ad rank by taking bid price + quality score… but we just showed quality score also includes bid price. Which means it would look something like this…


Bid price + Bid price + Other Quality score factors = Rank

…Why would they? Well they don’t.

The only clarification needed in this 123 step logic is in step 2, how Google determines if a CTR is high or low? What is it measuring your CTR against?

The assumption made here was that it is measured against an average CTR of adverts in all positions for that keyword. When in actual fact it is an average of the CTR of adverts which appeared in that specific position.

So if your advert showed in position 1 and had a CTR of 4% and the average of all previous advertisers adverts which showed in position 1 had a CTR of 5%, you would actually have a below average CTR and this would negatively impact your Quality score.

Suddenly bid price doesn’t come into quality score at all and all is calm again.

I like to say that they jumped to the conclusion because it implies speed and rushed logic. It says that it’s not that you don’t have the capacity to understand or find the answer yourself, you just need to slow down and give yourself more time to think.

“Ad position 1 gets better quality clicks”

And now to tackle the other jumped to conclusion. “Ad position 1 gets better quality clicks”

That means that a click on an advert in position 1 is more likely to convert than other positions.

This is quite a big assumption to make without having evidence, so we have to assume that there is some evidence being leaned on.

I suspect it could be something from Google’s research on Think With Google. Which I’m not saying is a bad source of information at all, just that how people interpret and use information out of context can make it harmful.

So combinations of things like this...

And, I’m still searching for the source, but I was told that 80% of conversions come from the top 3 ad positions. It is not unbelievable that this could be the case for some industries. But I think that in those cases, you would also find that the top 3 ad positions would also get 80% of the clicks.

This is backed up by Google’s Chief Economist in 2009 when he said

“for pages where 11 ads are shown the conversion rate varies by less than 5% across positions. In other words, an ad that had a 1.0% conversion rate in the best position, would have about a 0.95% conversions rate in the worst position, on average. Ads above the search results have a conversion rate within ±2% of right-hand side positions.

The bottom line: conversion rates don’t vary much by position.”

This was obviously based on lots of research and evidence. But with no sidebar this is reopen to debate, I would still bet that this is still pretty much the case.

Even without the data, evidence and quotes you could dismiss this sort of claim as unreliable at best just by imagining some searcher behaviour.

Shoppers sometimes buy on the first click, but more and more these days shoppers will, in fact, shop around. They will click the first advert that seems to fit what they want, take a look at the product make some mental notes and go back to click the second advert that seems to fit what they want. The bigger and less of a commodity the product is, the more likely they are to shop around.

I suppose it is quite hard to image a fair test for all this. Considering that there are factors like advertisers in position 1 may be able to afford that higher position because their product sells more than the competition.

It’s not something I would have relied on to decide to increase my bids and hope for more conversions per click. And I don’t recommend it either.

So

Be careful with bold claims. Don’t be afraid to ask for an explanation or even to seek one yourself. Question everything… within reason.

I have heard/read a few PPC account managers saying that bidding to position 1 will get you better quality clicks, or it will mean that you have a better quality score and many other claims.

The majority of the claims about adverts in position 1 I think are correct. But some jump to conclusions… let me show you what I mean.

“Adverts in position 1 get a better click through rate”

Yep, I would agree that over a long timespan with standard adverts, position 1 gets the best CTR.

However, this does not mean that “Bidding to position 1 will get you a better quality score”.

If we try and see it from this point of view and follow the logic this is what happens…

CTR is a factor in determining quality score

Position 1 gets a higher CTR

Therefore position 1 gets a higher quality score

Unfortunately there is an assumption made here. Whilst this all looks good when glanced at, once you start thinking about this it seems to be fundamentally broken and something Google wouldn’t do.

If this was true, adverts in lower positions would have worse quality scores simply because they are in the lower positions… So bid higher on a keyword triggering the same advert and you improve your quality score.

So this means that bid price is included in quality score.

All advertisers know that Google determines Ad rank by taking bid price + quality score… but we just showed quality score also includes bid price. Which means it would look something like this…

Bid price + Bid price + Other Quality score factors = Rank

…Why would they? Well they don’t.

The only clarification needed in this 123 step logic is in step 2, how Google determines if a CTR is high or low? What is it measuring your CTR against?

The assumption made here was that it is measured against an average CTR of adverts in all positions for that keyword. When in actual fact it is an average of the CTR of adverts which appeared in that specific position.

So if your advert showed in position 1 and had a CTR of 4% and the average of all previous advertisers adverts which showed in position 1 had a CTR of 5%, you would actually have a below average CTR and this would negatively impact your Quality score.

Suddenly bid price doesn’t come into quality score at all and all is calm again.

I like to say that they jumped to the conclusion because it implies speed and rushed logic. It says that it’s not that you don’t have the capacity to understand or find the answer yourself, you just need to slow down and give yourself more time to think.

And now to tackle the other jumped to conclusion. “Ad position 1 gets better quality clicks”

That means that a click on an advert in position 1 is more likely to convert than other positions.

This is quite a big assumption to make without having evidence, so we have to assume that there is some evidence being leaned on.

I suspect it could be something from Google’s research on Think With Google. Which I’m not saying is a bad source of information at all, just that how people interpret and use information out of context can make it harmful.

So combinations of things like this

And I’m still searching for the source, but I was told that 80% of conversions come from the top 3 ad positions. It is not unbelievable that this could be the case for some industries. But I think that in those cases, you would also find that the top 3 ad positions would also get 80% of the clicks.

This is backed up by Google’s Chief Economist in 2009 when he said

“for pages where 11 ads are shown the conversion rate varies by less than 5% across positions. In other words, an ad that had a 1.0% conversion rate in the best position, would have about a 0.95% conversions rate in the worst position, on average. Ads above the search results have a conversion rate within ±2% of right-hand side positions.

The bottom line: conversion rates don’t vary much by position.”

This was obviously based on lots of research and evidence. But with no sidebar this is reopen to debate, I would still bet that this is still pretty much the case.

Even without the data, evidence and quotes you could dismiss this sort of claim as unreliable at best just by imagining some searcher behaviour.

Shoppers sometimes buy on the first click, but more and more these days shoppers will, in fact, shop around. They will click the first advert that seems to fit what they want, take a look at the product make some mental notes and go back to click the second advert that seems to fit what they want. The bigger and less of a commodity the product is, the more likely they are to shop around.

 

I suppose it is quite hard to image a fair test for all this. Considering that there are factors like advertisers in position 1 may be able to afford that higher position because their product sells more than the competition.

 

It’s not something I would have relied on to decide to increase my bids and hope for more conversions per click. And I don’t recommend it either.

 

Be careful with bold claims. Don’t be afraid to ask for an explanation or even to seek one yourself. Question everything… within reason.

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