Good Ads Leapfrog the Competition – to the Top

Google announced yesterday that it’s now easier for a well-crafted ad to get to the coveted (sometimes) TOP LEFT area of sponsored links (above the organic listings). See the position of the Yoplait ad below to grok what I’m talking about:

Before, your ad would show up there only if you bid high enough, regardless of quality score. Now, quality score, and especially the clickthrough rate (CTR) factor in quality score, is more important.

In Google’s own words:

To appear above the search results, ads must meet a certain quality threshold. In the past, if the ad with the highest Ad Rank did not meet the quality threshold, we may not have shown any ads above the search results. With this update, we’ll allow an ad that meets the quality threshold to appear above the search results even if it has to jump over other ads to do so. For instance, suppose the ad in position 1 on the right side of the page doesn’t have a high enough Quality Score to appear above the search results, but the ad in position 2 does. It’s now possible for the number 2 ad to jump over the number 1 ad and appear above the search results. This change ensures that quality plays an even more important role in determining the ads that show in those prominent positions.

AdWords Mad Scientist Dr. Glenn Livingston put it this way in an email to me this morning:

My take is – it increases the stupidity tax, making it harder than ever for big dumb advertisers to win by just outbidding smart, hyper-relevant advertisers who work hard to understand what people want.
Now you REALLY gotta get’m clicking ’cause you can’t maintain your quality by paying for the top slot anymore.
Score one for our team.

My take is – Glenn’s absolutely right. AdWords, while still favoring deep pockets and well-known brands, is the least unfair advertising medium ever invented. And the playing field just got leveled even more with this welcome improvement.

Today at 11am EDT, I officially launched AdWords Ball: The Easy Way to Breakthrough Profits. In my mind, though, its subtitle is stolen from the book Moneyball (why not, since I stole/adapted the title from that book?): "The Art of Winning an Unfair Game."

Yes, you’re competing against advertisers with deeper pockets than you. With more brand recognition than you. But I’d bet money on a smart, prepared bootstrap entrepreneur going up against a big company every time.

AdWords Ball – the playbook for winning an unfair game. The good news for us, it just got a little fairer today.

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