A Twitter user from Canada recently reported seeing the SearchWiki “X” alongside AdWords ads on the Google search engine results pages.
Google SearchWiki was launched only last year to all users signed in on a Google account. The programme allows users to re-rank organic search results and comment on them. Now, adding SearchWiki to AdWords will mean that users have the ability to delete or reposition an ad as per their choice and requirements.
This is a good feature, as far as individual users are concerned. What is worrying to advertisers, however, is the fact that if several users delete or lower the ranking of a particular ad, it may eventually affect the Quality Score of the ad.
It is a fact that Google already knows a lot about user preferences towards various ads based on the click through rates of any given ad. This data allows Google to reward sites with higher click through rates and hence higher quality scores by lowering their costs per click.
SearchWiki on AdWords does the reverse in some ways. It will allow Google to identify which of the ads that weren’t clicked were especially irrelevant or offensive to the user.
Such a system could leave Google SERPs open to manipulation akin to what happened in the early days of PPC advertising – unscrupulous companies hired low-pay workers in third-world countries to click on competitor ads, making them bleed through their budget.Such companies could now hire rogue teams to vote down competitor ads repeatedly.
On the other hand, genuine users who do not like a particular ad might just not bother to waste their time deleting or re-ranking it. They might just ignore it.
A Google spokesperson is supposed to have replied to Peter Young, an advertiser from the UK, saying, “This is a small experiment to show the SearchWiki “X” next to AdWords ads on Google.com search results pages … The experiment triggers for a small number of SearchWiki users. SearchWiki is launched to most (but not all) signed-in US English users … Ads that users remove will no longer trigger for that user on that query … At this time the experiment does not affect Quality Scores, CPCs, ranking, or anything else … It it too soon to say how we will use the data in the future … Any time an ad is shown to a user, an impression is counted … [advertisers cannot opt out of this experiment] … [advertisers cannot see reports on ad removal].”
Google’s response to Search Engine Land was more typical of the tight-lipped search giant: “As part of our ongoing commitment to innovation, we are currently running an experiment in which users can customize the ads that appear in the Sponsored Links section of the search results page by deleting ad results. This experimental feature is only visible to a small number of users and we have no news to announce at this time regarding developments in our AdWords product offering.”
It goes without saying that since AdWords is a major source of income for Google, they will definitely think long and hard before making any move that their advertisers might not like.