Thursday, 15 March 2007

Inconsistent Information from AdWords and AdSense?

Yesterday I was listening to the AdWords Learning Center multimedia lesson on Ad Distribution when I heard something that immediately caused me to sit up and take notice.

In a discussion of the Content Network (aka AdSense), the "lecturer" stated that ads are ranked on the Content Network in the same way as on Thus, to put it simply, if my ad ranks above yours for a search, it should rank above it on the Content Network.

However, if you take a look at AdSense help, you will read:

please know that all eligible ads will compete to be displayed on your pages, and our system will automatically show those that will generate the highest revenue for you.
I believe the official AdSense blog also discussed this topic a while ago, which clearly stated that Google puts the best-paying ads, as far as the AdSense publisher is concerned, first on the page.

Do you see the inconsistency here?

On the AdWords side, we're hearing that ads are ranked according to Bid (max cpc) x Quality Score AND that ads on the content network are ranked in the same way. However, on the AdSense side we're hearing that Google will display the highest paying ads first.

Given that it's possible for an ad with a lower bid to appear above one with a higher bid on a search results page, as a result of different quality scores, how can this possibly be consistent with AdSense's claim of displaying the highest paying ads first - unless Google pays a higher percentage for a click on the ad with the lower bid/higher quality score than on the one with the higher bid/lower quality score?

The Learning Center lesson also stated that Google stops displaying ads on particular sites that don't produce results for that ad. Thus, there is much more going on here than a simple AdWords "bid x qualty score" auction.

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