The Google AdWords blog announced three major changes happening to the AdWords marketplace. First, Google will now calculate the quality score of your keywords at the time of the search query. Second, Google has removed the “minimum bid” metric and replaced it with “first page bid.” Finally, Google will no longer mark search ads as “inactive for search.”
Google said they will be rolling out these changes to a “very small segment of advertisers within the next day or two.” Google will be watching how this impacts those advertisers and will then decide when to launch this on a broader scale. Let me explain what these changes means in greater detail.
(1) Google will no longer assign a keyword a “static” quality score; instead, Google will calculate the quality score at the time the search is done. The quality score will take into account the searcher’s location, query phrase and other factors. If Google sees that for a specific advertiser, a search in one location for a longer tail version of the advertiser’s keyword is more relevant, then that ad will receive a higher quality score at the time of the search.
(2) Google is doing away with the popular “minimum bid,” replacing it with “first page bid.” Why? Well, Google is no longer marking ads as “inactive for search,” and thus there is no minimum bid for a search ad to be displayed. Google does explain that a past ad that had a high minimum bid or that was placed as “inactive for search” would likely not perform well with the new quality score because of the nature of the ad. So by changing it from “minimum bid” to “first page bid,” Google is able to give advertisers “better guidance on how to achieve your advertising goals.”
(3) Inaction for search is no longer going to be used, meaning, search ads will never be inactive. All your ads have the ability and chance to show up for keywords, except for the ads you have paused or deleted. Google adds that keywords previously marked as inactive will likely not perform well, “because their combined per-query Quality Score and bid probably isn’t high enough to gain competitive placement.”
I will keep an eye on the discussion forums to see if and when advertisers are impacted. Currently, I see no complaints in the forums I track.
Also note, the AdWords API team is working on adding the “first page bids” metric. The minimum bid field in the API will continue to show, but that metric will be more related to the first page bids of the new per-query quality score.