Content Network Quality Score

So you’ve got a successful content network running, and one day you notice the traffic slowing down to a trickle. What is happening? There isn’t a quality score on the content network right? I beg to differ.

Direct from Google, here is there definition of how they calculate quality score on the content network:

“Quality Score for the content network is a dynamic metric assigned to each of your ads. It’s calculated using a variety of factors and measures how relevant your ad is to a particular page in the content network. The higher an ad’s Quality Score, the more likely it is to appear on a content page and the higher its position will be.

Quality Score for the content network is based on the following factors:

  • The relevance of the ad and the keywords in the ad group to a content page
  • The ad’s performance history on the page and similar pages
  • The quality of your ad’s landing page”

And also, here is what Google says happens if you’re slapped with a poor quality score on the content network:

“Quality Score also affects your eligibility to enter the ad auction. Lower-quality ads may require a higher bid to compete in the auction. Fewer impressions on the content network may mean your Quality Score isn’t high enough for your ads to be shown at your current maximum CPC or CPM bid. If you’d like to receive more impressions without working to improve your ad quality, you’ll need to increase your maximum bid.”

Many affiliates i’ve talked to lately have mentioned they are seeing their content network traffic dry up. There are two reasons this can be happening. First, maybe competitors are using CPM bidding on high traffic/converting URL’s and this is taking the whole ad block leaving your ads on the wayside.

It’s a fact that image ads produce a much higher click through rate than text ads, especially if you take up an entire ad block. Think about it, Google has one thing of value to them. Ad space. They want to maximize this ad space by showing ads that get the best possible CTR… oh and by the way, Google considers your CTR a “vote”. A vote telling them that users are finding your ad relevant. That’s what they are looking for.

The second reason is exactly what we’re talking about in this post. Quality score. Now, it’s a fact that Google grades quality score “on the curve” that is, you are compared to everyone else for that particular keyword, or in this case, URL.

If someone has a kick butt CTR on a particular URL, guess what? Sorry. It’s over.

I’m sure you’re wondering how you can tell your quality score on the content network? Google really doesn’t say however, I have found something interesting. If you use AdWords Editor you can “seemingly” see what Google has you rated.

Now, I can’t officially say it is 100% the way to tell, but all my stats prove that I believe it does.

First, download all your campaigns in AdWords Editor, then download the statistics for all time.

Next, click on a content campaign on the left, and select the Keywords tab and you’ll something interesting. Just like search, you will see a content network quality score.

Now, here’s a screenshot of a current campaign I am running that has loads of traffic:

Content Network Quality Score

And here is a screenshot of a past campaign that dried up:

Content Network Quality Score

Now the thing is, the bids really aren’t sure high on a lot of these keywords, and it still says active however, I can tell you first hand my traffic went from stellar to almost non-existent. So you tell me?

The key here is to run placement reports and get rid of URL’s with tens of thousands of impressions, even if you get a sale or two. It’s worth the trade off! I’ll sacrifice a couple sales a month and a profitable URL if it helps my overall campaign CTR.

What good are those measily sales if Google puts the hammer down and dries it all up?

That’s why it is absolutely critical to monitor and optimize a content network campaign. You can’t let them run on autopilot anymore. You really have to continue monitoring and excluding, and also using the placement tab to bid higher on favorable URL’s.

Don’t let things become stagnant and remain active in your optimization, and remember CTR is a major factor in the success of a content campaign, more so now, than ever.

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  1. Keith, 21 July, 2009


    This is a great article. We’ve huge believers in managing the content network separately from search. Your tips on how to find the quality score, and how to improve it through reduction of low CTR URL’s is great advice..

  2. Peter, 21 July, 2009


    Thanks, I’m glad you liked my post! Yes separating the two is important…

    Take care,


  3. Shelley Ellis, 16 March, 2010

    Very nice article with great visual examples 😉

  4. Peter, 18 March, 2010

    Thanks Shelley!

    Peter 🙂

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