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Monday, June 30, 2008

It’s True – Google Improves Ad Targeting With Search History

Posted by @ 4:21 am

A significant targeting improvement to the Google advertising platform is in the wings.

Google has confirmed that they’re running tests on the AdWords platform which see it relying on more than just the current search query to determine which ads to display. The search giant openly admitted using a user’s previous query to enhance ad targeting in the past, but now the scope of this behavioral tracking has been expanded.

Google gathers a significant amount of data from users as they conduct several searches in their quest to find relevant information. It was only a matter of time before Google utilized this information to help improve the relevance of the ads presented in the SERPs (search engine results page).

Confirmation came via some questioning by Saul Hansell from the New York Times. Saul was following up on tests conducted by Gene Munster from Piper Jaffray – which uncovered that ads were being influenced by multiple queries several minutes apart.

Nick Fox, a director of Product Management at Google confirmed what the tests had shown. According to Saul’s article, Nick had this to say:

“We are trying to understand what the user is trying to do right now…In some cases, those queries are ambiguous, so you need a little more context…

It is probably not just the previous query that matters…You want to know if the user is still doing the same thing. You wouldn’t want to go back a month. You wouldn’t want to go back a day. But you may want to go back two or three queries.”

So what does this mean for Google advertisers?
Some will be quick to suggest that it could diminish the impressions their ads receive and reduce their exposure to valuable potential visitors. But more importantly, when click-through is what counts, it should ensure better quality visitors are clicking on your ads.

The system is based on ads using broad match keyword targeting and I’m not 100% sure whether Exact Match ads carry greater weighting or less. Either way, the success of ads displayed, based on the previous searches, does not impact Quality Score.

The important fact for advertisers is that better targeting generally means better results. Less budget wasted on misguided searches and clicks is a good thing. Expect to hear more about this in the coming months…

Rene LeMerle Rene is the marketing manager of - a global search engine marketing company. He also leads the marketing for - a web 2.0 style community for online and digital marketers. Rene has been in the industry since 1997 with much of that time spent helping businesses embrace the best of the internet and digital world.

View Rene LeMerle's profile

Discussion (1 - comment)

Unfortunately, the better your Quality Score is the more Google will use Expanded Broad Matches and actually reduce the quality of traffic you receive by opening it up to “synonyms” that no rational person would consider to be the same thing.

They are using “user behavior” (click through rate)to determine if these expanded matches are “appropriate to keep serving up, but this appropriateness has nothing to do with relevance.

By Tad Miller - July 16, 2008

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