Yahoo’s Quality Score – Not Even They Understand It

I was looking through a few of my campaigns in different accounts in YSM, and taking notice of things like CTR, keyword relevance, and landing page relevance, and linking that to quality score. Overall, I was left confused and without much indication of what really influences quality score. For example, I noticed a couple things :

Example A

I have 1 campaign that gets a lot of impressions and horrible click-through rate (about 0.15%). It’s one of the ringtone campaigns I talked about a few days ago. The keywords aren’t relevant to the ads at all, they’re not relevant to the landing page at all, and my quality score is 3/5 on them. I have another campaign that gets good volume. The keywords are relevant to the ad as well as the landing page, and the overall CTR is greater than 2%. Quality score is 3/5 on that campaign. Does this make sense? Uh, no…

Example B

I just started a new campaign a couple days ago. Ad group 1 is kind of a broad target, it gets more volume and the CTR so far is about 2.2%. The quality score on my ads is 4/5. Ad group 2 is very tightly targeted, gets less volume, and the CTR is 30%. The quality score on those ads is 3/5 bars.

Completely confused again, I decide to call Yahoo and have a nice little chat with them…

I explain my situation and examples, and after a little mumbo-jumbo, the rep says “I’m actually still trying to figure out their quality index myself…”. Later on in the conversation he says again “yeah, but right now how quality score is calculated is still pretty unknown.” Not even YSM employees know how quality score is calculated! He told me it takes into account :

-keyword relevancy in the ad
-historical data

But didn’t really know how they factored each one in. From my best experience I’d say they weight it by :

-CTR (although even that’s shaky with the most recent example)
-keyword relevancy (keyword insertion in the title is almost guaranteed at least 4/5 for me)

Historical data doesn’t seem to make much sense as I’ve had that crappy ringtone campaign running for 7 months and the CTR is always awful.

What can we take from this? Don’t think you’re doing something wrong when Yahoo slaps your ads with a mediocre quality score, and don’t think you’re doing something right when some ads have a good quality score.

Dear Yahoo,

Give us some answers!

Concerned Marketer


  1. David
    September 28, 2007

    Im glad to see someone write about this. Ive been telling people the same thing for a while and nobody believed me lol. Yahoo’s quality score makes NO sense. It really doesn’t appear to be tied to anything. One thing I HAVE noticed though is that if you get a lot of clicks (regardless of CTR) when your campaign starts your a lot more likely to have a higher quality score than if you launch a campaign that doesn’t generate many clicks. Have you noticed this as well?

  2. Paul
    October 2, 2007

    Have you noticed if quality index affects ad ranking? I am still trying to figure that out..

  3. January 31, 2008

    I had stepped out of the YSM realm for a little over a year and just got back to it the other day. WHAT are they doing? Overture seemed to be ok, but the tools they have now are just not very intuitive. Adwords is very easy to understand and get going. I’m sure YSM works for many people, but I hate reading a tutorial on how to use software. Tip to Yahoo if you are reading… If the most visited section on your site is the help page, you need to code a better application!

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