• http://www.semnoob.com mmarshall

    George – This is a fantastic article!

    This has been my primary pain point with AdWords. Advertisers need to have much tighter control over our accounts and Google just continues to remove our ability to micro optimize. Something needs to be seriously reevaluated.

  • http://www.rimmkaufman.com George Michie


    Better controls will benefit everyone, no question about it.

  • http://ggtheory.com GE.GAO

    This is so true!

    The first time I noticed such problem I believed this was a bug, which Google rep denied even when I presented the screenshots to him. “This could not happen” while it happened in front of us.
    Well, after it happened again and again I started to realized this was intentional. Just as you said, ” it is a feature”. And I don’t blame the Google rep because it is not what their training tells them.

    Supposedly Quality Score should be an entirely independent system aiming at improving user experience (therefore generates higher long term revenue), but I seriously doubt that it is not the case any more.

  • http://www.ArtisanManagement.com ARTiSAN

    This has become a complete pain. Google is definitely displaying ads based upon non-exact matched keywords over exact match keywords if the exact match bid is lower. We’ve had to add 100’s of additional keywords to help prevent this. In addition our policy now is to drastically limit the use of broad matching beyond an initial ‘bedding in’ period.

    This is clearly about revenue gathering rather than relevancy. Rather than bid up the exact match keywords we ensure the bids on phrase and broad matching are generally lower than exact match. This market is crying out for some real competition to Google.

  • http://www.rimmkaufman.com George Michie

    Artisan, I feel your pain!

    On the subject of competition I will say this: the folks at Microsoft are listening intently on the subject of matching, relevance and the controls advertisers want and need. Not sure when/whether their traffic volumes will ever catch-up to Google, but I get the sense that they’re going to build a great tool set.

  • racecar

    I think the key here is “Google’s engineers genuinely believe they can algorithmically pick better ads to serve than the advertisers can.” There may be all sorts of reasons (that Google would never think of) that the advertiser would want to run an ad that Google thinks is lesser, over an ad that Google thinks is better. For at least the time being, it is still people who search, people who click on ads, and people who buy the products and services.

  • Stupidscript

    IMHO, this is, in fact, a bug and not a feature … it’s just that there are so many bugs like this that fixing a single one is not only not a priority, it’s not even possible. In order to fix this bug, they would have to fix other bugs and change other rules and massage other algorithms … it’s a huge undertaking at this point.

    We’ve noticed many, many of these logic bugs when they display themselves as click fraud and poor matches. For example, we very often see the same user come to our site many times, using the same query but matching on different keywords, each more expensive than the last.

    In addition, we have been documenting and attempting to pass to Google engineering multiple bugs in their billing and event notification programming.

    Unfortunately, if they were to acknowledge any of these bugs, including the bug this article is about, they open themselves up to withering lawsuits, so we can never expect any satisfaction from them. They simply cannot tell us the problems exist, or they would be sued out of existence.

    As Google grows, they are having a harder and harder time of keeping everything in line. We can expect a huge fallout, one day, with a massive pummeling of Google’s bottom line before they finally go back and dig in to all of these errors that are creeping into their programming.

    It’s the cycle of growth. It doesn’t make it any easier to accept … the frustration is quite palpable … but we have no choice but to accept that we can do nothing at all to help them improve their system, because once they accept our help with pointing out bugs, their lawyers get real busy, and they know it.

  • http://www.rimmkaufman.com George Michie

    Really interesting perspectives, folks, thank you!

  • seethesunrise

    We had the same issue a couple weeks ago. I noticed an exact match keyword that had the status saying it wasn’t showing because another keyword was being matched to searches.

    Turned out to be a broad match. Both had the same quality score. So our reps told us to make sure the bid for the exact match was higher (which tells me they compete against one another, which they swear doesn’t happen). However, they were both low cost keywords and the CPC was much lower than our max bid on both. So it wouldn’t have made a difference.

    Going back to them again they said that given that, the algorithm next looks at the average position. The exact match was at 1.3 and the broad happened to be at 1. So it was displaying the broad. Once the broad dropped in either QS or positioning, then the exact would show up.