Monday, July 18, 2011

MSN AdCenter Quality Score Algorithm Really Revealed

Ever since the beginning of Pay-Per-Click advertising, we have been looking for the holy grail to decipher the paid search algorithm. Google offered a cumulative quality score to show how much you would end up paying per click versus competitors and in what position. However, in an attempt of desperation, MSN AdCenter has revealed the complete quality score variables to all of your keywords in PPC for Bing & Yahoo, kind of.

MSN AdCenter vs Google AdWords
Both offer a "Quality Score" from 1 to 10, both offer a Landing Page Quality Score of 1 or 2 (problem or no problem), Google offers a "Page Load Time" score (problem or no problem; Landing Page User Experience? from MSN), Landing Page Quality of 1 or 2 (Landing Page Relevance? from MSN) and the only difference seems to be that you can't use MSN AdCenter in Google Chrome (oh and the fact that MSN AdCenter Quality Scores are wrong, way off). The variables seem to match up:

MSN AdCenter

  • Quality Score (1 to 10) = Position of Ad in Paid Ad Array (Position 10 to 1 inversely)

  • Keyword Relevance (1, 2 or 3) = Raw CTR

  • Landing Page Relevance (1 or 2) = Did you keyword stuff your page with all the keywords listed in your Ad Group?

  • Landing Page User Experience (1 or 2) = Spammy, too many ads? Or are they saying too many external requests (for ads) causing page load time to be above a threshold?


  • Quality Score (1 to 10) = a Score that is calculated by a complex algorithm taking the following 3 variables, plus many others.

  • Keyword Relevance (Problem or No Problem) = Real Relevance to Keyword based on theme used in Text Ad, Display URL, etc.

  • Landing Page Quality (Problem or No Problem) = Semantically Relevant

  • Landing Page Load Time (Problem or No Problem) = Minimum 1.5 seconds to load page from server is FAST

However, if the Keyword is "keyword #1" and all the elements of the ad are "keyword #1" themed, and the keyword relevance is the highest (2), how can the quality score be 1 in MSN AdCenter? It would be around 4 in Google Adwords.

It seems that MSN Adcenter is not measuring keyword relevance versus competitors, only by the Click-Through-Rate as a raw number. I also suspect that the Quality Score closely ties to the location of the keyword in the paid search array, whether in position 1 or 10.

Yahoo Panama
I think it took Yahoo (now Bing) years to catch up to Google in calculating a CPC that wasn't based solely on max CPC. And now you think MSN Adcenter's Quality Score is as good as Google's Adwords Quality Score, Nope! Google's response? To laugh and say nice try, Bing.

The Bottom Line
Google's Quality score is calculated every time a search is performed, and with lightning speed figures out the most appropriate ads to show, in the right position. Whereas, the MSN AdCenter Quality Score transparency only looks good but after digging deeper, it is not even 1/10 the complexity of Google Adwords Quality Score. The MSN AdCenter Quality Score is a loose estimate of SEO variables re-purposed for PPC optimization. But this is the same as the SEO search algorithm, Google's is far superior.

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