Feeds

Eye of newt: Inside Google's AdWords auction

Or whatever it is

Remote control for virtualized desktops

At a Minimum

If Google doesn't like your quality, it may even force you off that results page entirely. With each so-called auction, Google gives every advertiser a separate minimum bid, and this too is a product of quality score. For one advertiser, the minimum might be 10 cents. For another, it might be 10 dollars. And unless you bid your minimum, you can't join the bidding.

There are ways of improving your quality score - and your minimum bid. But you can't improve it unless you pay it - over and over again. And many smaller advertisers can't afford to play that game.

If your quality score is low and your minimum bid is high, you typically end up at the bottom of Google's results page, paying more for less traffic. "Roughly speaking, an ad that has twice the quality of another ad will tend to get about twice as many clicks, and will only have to pay half as much per click as the competing ad," Google chief economist Hal Varian wrote in a recent blog post. This, of course, makes it all the more difficult to improve your quality score. And so on. And so forth.

Again, Google is working to weed out what it sees as dodgy ads. But in doing so, it puts the squeeze on newer advertisers who've yet to learn the ropes - while raking in some added dough. "Even for experienced advertisers, setting up an AdWords account is a real challenge," consultant Andrew Goodman, the man who wrote the book on AdWords, has told us. "If you're a new advertiser, either you fail or Google makes a bunch of money off you."

For some, the only option is a switch to some other search platform - an option that grows less attractive by the day.

"An ad that has twice the quality of another ad will tend to get about twice as many clicks, and will only have to pay half as much per click as the competing ad." -Google

False Impressions

But at least Google acknowledges that the minimum bid exists. Though Mountain View remains largely mum on the matter, there's evidence the company exerts even more control over the alleged AdWords auction. It would seem that those who typically receive higher placement on the results page also receive more impressions - i.e. their ads appear on more pages.

With his blog post, Google's chief economist indicates that AdWords does limit impressions for certain ads at the bottom of its list. "Ads that have particularly low quality may be disabled, and not shown at all," he says.

But Mountain View may go much further. According to a study run by one high-volume advertiser, Google plays games with impressions not only at the bottom of its ad list, but at the top. For each keyword, this study indicates, the ad that typically sits at the top of the page receives significantly more impressions than the ad that typically occupies the second spot, the ad in the second spot receives more than the third, and so on.

"If you bid your ad to rank 1, you get about 60 per cent more impressions than if you bid it to rank 2. Rank 2, in turn, gets about 30 per cent more than rank 3, and below that, there is about a 10-per-cent-per-rank boost," this advertiser says.

The study compares AdWords to Yahoo!'s original search advertising platform, which was replaced in the middle of last year. Yahoo!'s old school platform was a straight eBay-style auction. The highest bid got the highest spot. And Yahoo! gave the same number of impressions to each bidder.

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
Lawyers mobilise angry mob against Apple over alleged 2011 Macbook Pro crapness
We suffered 'random bouts of graphical distortion' - fanbois
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
US court SHUTS DOWN 'scammers posing as Microsoft, Facebook support staff'
Netizens allegedly duped into paying for bogus tech advice
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
Verizon bankrolls tech news site, bans tech's biggest stories
No agenda here. Just don't ever mention Net neutrality or spying, ok?
Inside the EYE of the TORnado: From Navy spooks to Silk Road
It's hard enough to peel the onion, are you hard enough to eat the core?
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Website security in corporate America
Find out how you rank among other IT managers testing your website's vulnerabilities.