Google on why Ad Strength is ‘important’ as it addresses concerns

Some Google advertisers are convinced Ad Strength is a pointless metric that should be ignored.

The diagnostic tool, touted by the search engine as an effective way to assist marketers in creating better ads, has faced harsh criticism, with some labelling it a “waste of time.” What’s more, many marketers have noticed a peculiar trend: campaigns labeled with a “poor” ad strength rating often outperform those with an “excellent” rating.

With the debate intensifying, how much attention should PPC marketers be paying to Ad Strength?

‘Ad strength score doesn’t matter’

Mateja Matić, founder of Dominate Marketing and an expert in online marketing for over a decade, shared his perspective on Ad Strength. Despite Google’s emphasis on it, Matić revealed that he does not prioritize Ad Strength when building campaigns.

Having conducted countless tests, he said that Google’s responsive ads have never outperformed ads that he set up manually. With this in mind, he does not trust Google’s automated recommendations. He wrote on X:

  • “If you are new to Google Ads, one of things you need to be aware of is Google’s recommendations are not necessarily the best things for your account. I can tell you from experience that the majority of things they recommend in your account do not work as good as other things you can do to make your ads better.”
  • “I don’t believe Ad Strength score means anything. I have ads that are performing extremely well that have a very bad ad strength score. It says ‘poor’ and yet they’re getting a 10-15% conversion rate on actual leads.”

‘Don’t worry about Ad Strength’

Frederick Vallaeys, Co-Founder and CEO of Optmyzr, offered insights on Ad Strength, highlighting that exceptional campaign performance doesn’t always correlate with a high Ad Strength rating. Ad strength primarily reflects general trends rather than the nuances of individual campaigns and audiences, according to Vallaeys. This is why even if a campaign with a low Ad Strength rating performs exceptionally well, Google will not change the score.

Vallaeys emphasized this point in a blog post, advising experienced advertisers to prioritize other metrics over ad strength:

  • “If you’re worried that poor Ad Strength means your ad will serve less frequently, rest assured that ad strength does not impact ad rank or quality score. In other words, if your ad strength is poor, it does not mean Google is deprioritizing your ad in the ad auction.”
  • “A higher ad strength doesn’t mean a better CTR or a better conversion rate or a better quality score. If you’re new to advertising or don’t know what’s going to work, consider this a piece of advice. But if you’re an experienced advertiser, go ahead and do what you do best. Don’t just be blinded by the ad strength.”

‘Waste of time’

Anthony Higman, CEO of online advertising agency Adsquire, said he experimented with prioritizing Ad Strength when creating campaigns. Despite his efforts, he found that emphasizing ad strength did not result in an increase in quality leads.

Through extensive testing, Higman concluded that he would prefer campaigns with “poor Ad Strength and good leads” over those with increased expenditure and less relevant leads, which he deemed as a “waste of everyone’s time.” Despite his skepticism regarding Ad Strength’s effectiveness in generating quality leads, Higman suspects it may soon become a metric influencing ad rank. He told Search Engine Land.

  • “I believe that they will soon make Ad Strength a factor of ad rank. About two months ago a rep who reached out to us said in an email that ‘ad strength’ is a factor of ad rank. I think he slipped up. When I lost it on him and said ‘excuse me but ad strength is not a factor of ad rank’, he backtracked.”
  • “Either way, Ad Strength will probably influence ad rank in the future, which is disappointing. We are just praying that they come up with a fix before everyone abandons ship.”

Google responds

When Search Engine Land raised the PPC community’s concerns about the relevance of Ad Strength, Brendon Kraham, Google’s Vice President of Search & Commerce, addressed the issue. He asserted that Ad Strength is “very important” and emphasized its significance as an evaluative criteria that marketers should prioritize. He said:

  • “I don’t know where [the idea that Ad Strength is not important] comes from. Ad Strength is at the centre of what we’re trying to do is because creative is going to be incredibly important, and Ad Strength is going to be the mechanism which we use to evaluate that both in Performance Max and channels like search.”

Kraham went on to explain that Ad Strength assesses the breadth and depth of assets within a campaign before assigning a rating. According to Google, this breadth and depth of assets are crucial for reaching users across various channels, including SERPs, video display, and other creative opportunities. Google prioritizes this aspect as it ensures campaigns are well-equipped to engage users effectively across different platforms and formats.

The role of Performance Max

Kraham noted that PMax offers asset generative capabilities that can enhance Ad Strength. He highlighted that advertisers who leverage PMax’s asset generation capabilities during campaign building have a 63% higher chance of achieving a good or excellent Ad Strength score. This indicates the effectiveness of Performance Max in optimizing ad assets and improving campaign performance. He added:

  • “Advertisers need to market to the speed consumers to ensure they serve the right ads to the right user at the right time – but many advertisers, large and small, struggle to deliver the breadth and depth of assets needed. If you leverage [PMax’s] generative capabilities, it really does give advertisers the ability to put the right ads in front of the right user at the right time. It can really deliver on the promise of what marketing has been trying to do for quite some time.”

Is PMax the future of Google Ads?

Kraham concluded by emphasizing that AI represents the future of digital advertising, with PMax serving as a prime example of this concept. He highlighted how PMax provides businesses, especially small ones with limited resources, the ability to deliver a broader range and depth of assets, enabling them to keep pace with consumers’ evolving preferences.

In his final remarks, Kraham reiterated the significance of AI-driven solutions like PMax in empowering businesses to thrive in today’s fast-paced digital landscape. He said:

  • “Automation is the future, and PMax is the best example of AI in ads because it’s the only campaign type that runs across inventory using AI; both predictive and generative.”
  • “We will continue to build in both cases because we need to help marketers reach consumers at the speed at which they’re operating – PMax is the best manifestation of how to do that.”

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