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Google to make real-time judgment of ad quality

Coming changes will mean that Google will judge each advertiser's ad quality immediately rather than use a precalculated score. Also: adios, minimum bids.

Google plans to update its mechanism for ad quality scoring, a critical measurement that influences whether advertisements are placed next to search results so that judgments of ad quality are made immediately.

Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.
Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google uses an auction system to determine which advertisers' ads are placed next to search results, but the winners of the auction are determined by more than how much an advertiser is willing to pay. Google also effectively raises minimum bid requirements for ads that don't meet its quality criteria, such as a good click-through rates or, in a newer addition, the speed at which an advertisers' Web page loads. But changes are coming to this system.

With coming updates, ad quality will be judged at the time a user searches, Google said Thursday on its AdWords blog. Google will begin testing changes with a small set of users "within the next day or two," before deploying the changes for everyone.

"We are replacing our static per-keyword Quality Scores with a system that will evaluate an ad's quality each time it matches a search query. This way, AdWords will use the most accurate, specific, and up-to-date performance information when determining whether an ad should be displayed," Google said. Previously, Google used a static measurement of quality in assessing whether to display an advertiser's ad for a particular keyword.

The real-time process also means that Google no longer will mark various keywords as unavailable to advertisers who previously had low ad quality scores for those keywords, Google said.

And the company is changing its mechanism for describing how advertisers can expect results. Instead of presenting them with the minimum bid required for each keyword, Google will show what cost advertisers should expect for high placement.

"We're replacing minimum bids with a new, more meaningful metric: first-page bids. First-page bids are an estimate of the bid it would take for your ad to reach the first page of search results on Google Web search," Google said.