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Catch 22!! Need impressions to get CTR to get good Ad Rank to get impressions!

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# 1
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I have had seven campaigns up and running for a couple of weeks but I have not gotten any impressions. I can't figure how I'm going to get out of this rut. It is my understanding that only ads with a good Quality Score will have a good enough Ad Rank to be shown. But I also understand that a major component of Quality Score is a good CTR. But, it is impossible to have a good CTR without first having impressions that result in clicks. So, this is a Catch 22! How do new campaigns get off the ground when they start out with a zero CTR and therefore have such a low Quality Score and low Ad Rank that their ads won't be shown?

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Re: Catch 22!! Need impressions to get CTR to get good Ad Rank to get impressions!

[ Edited ]
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# 2
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the articulated catch-22 with respect to ad-rank is avoided

based mainly on two components of the auction system --

(a) the quality-score seen within the ad-account is not the same
quality-score that is re-calculated and used in each live ad-auction;

(b) the quality-score that is re-calculated, for each live ad-auction,
each time someone searches on google, is determined by many

factors, that can be controlled, regardless of any impressions.

ad-rank during the real-time auction, takes into account quality-signals --
including exactly what a user is searching for, the specific user's context
for the search, user-related targeting details such as device-type, language,
location, time-of-day, a user's historical search history, the ad's relevance
with respect to a user's search-term, targeting, and history, a specific ad's
landing-page details, the landing-page experience, etc.

these real-time signals, along with google's minimum-threshold-bid and
bids compared to other advertisers, are more likely to be an indicator of
whether an ad will be seen or not -- not the ad-account's quality-score.

assuming the basic structure of the ad-account is sound, such as having
enough budget to cover the bid, the ad is enabled/not under review, etc.
then, increasing the bid and improving real-time auction signals related
to quality -- including relevance, match-type, negative-words, targeting

details such as device-type, language, location, and time-of-day, relevant
ad-extensions, the landing-page, overall page/site experience, including
how the business service or product are represented, etc -- are the more
likely areas to look to, to improve, to help ad-rank.

then, over time, click-through-rates will become more critical to ad-rank.


Catch 22!! Need impressions to get CTR to get good Ad Rank to get impressions!

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# 3
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Thank you Celebird for your excellent response.

I was not aware that there are two different Quality Scores, one for the ad campaign and one for the live ad auction. From what you are saying I can infer that the CTR is not used on new campaigns to establish QS. But, that still does not help me to understand why I am getting only a tiny number of impressions and why the few I am getting have very lousy positions (e.g., #5) and why I'm getting no clicks at all.

I am a personal injury attorney and I have seven different campaigns, one of them, for example, being motorcycle accidents. On that campaign I have an excellent landing page and I have 8 keywords. Each of the keywords is relevant to the service I offer and they are all commonly entered in search queries and all are relevant to the landing page. For example, one of the keywords is "motorcycle attorney" and another is "motorcycle lawyer". Some are set to phrase match while others are broad modified. I have only one county in one state targeted. My daily budget is more than sufficient to cover bids on any of my keywords. My ads are all enabled and not under review. I have call and location extensions.

If, as you say, the zero CTR in my ad campaign is being disregarded, then I would think I would have a high enough QS in the live ad auctions to be getting many more impressions and some in the top positions. Maybe my bidding strategy needs to be modified but on the other hand in my seven campaigns I am already using several different bidding strategies, including Maximizing Clicks, Targeting Search Position Location and Manual CPC. None of those strategies is working at all!

If the explanation for my poor Adwords performance is not my bidding strategy then possibly the explanation is that I'm bidding against myself. My concern is that I have one ad which has "Motorcycle Attorney" in Headline #1 and another ad which has "Motorcycle Lawyer" in headline #1. The second headlines and the descriptions are otherwise identical in all of my ads. So, no two ads are absolutely identical but they are only different by one single word which appears in the top headline. Is it possible that I am competing against myself and not being shown due to this?

I would greatly appreciate your sage and thoughtful advice.

Many thanks,


Catch 22!! Need impressions to get CTR to get good Ad Rank to get impressions!

[ Edited ]
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# 4
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Newly created keywords will have a QS of 6 until enough data has been collected. Plus actual QS is calculated in realtime during the auction. 


It maybe that your max CPC is too low. IF this is the case Google will alert you in the keywords tab, informing you that your bid is below the first page. 


If you're not seeing this message, you maybe inadvertently blocking terms with negative keywords. 


Are you geo targeting? Is the reach perhaps too low? 


Have you ran a keyword diagnosis to ensure your ads are showing?


It is worth using the keyboard diagnosis tool. Ensure you set the location to one that you're targeting and perform several searches that you believe your ads should be showing for. This can be quite revealing. 


It probably goes without saying, but ensure your ads haven't been disapproved. 

Catch 22!! Need impressions to get CTR to get good Ad Rank to get impressions!

[ Edited ]
Top Contributor
# 5
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first, you're welcome.

generally, the business goals and objectives should drive the marketing
strategy and those targets should drive specific ad-account/campaigns'
structural details and ad-auction tactics.

for example, quickly building brand awareness requires different tactics,
than if a goal is a product purchase, or a client or lead acquisition, or
acquiring a specific type of client/case in a specific focus/practice area.

(a) impressions --

as was indicated, impressions mainly relate to the bid and quality related
factors during the auctions and the campaign's auction-strategy details.

for gaining impressions, consider more effective keyword, carefully using
negative-keywords to avoid diluting an ad's impact, day-parting strategies,
more tightly coupled keywords to ad-text details to help improve relevancy,
the type of ad-networks being targeted, more strict geo-targeting, device
targeting, language targeting, etc.


data analysis can be critical -- consider inspecting the search-query related
reports for both word and negative-word ideas; also, consider inspecting the
impression-share and lost impression-share related reports, to help determine
a campaign's effectiveness and then possibly pausing or removing the lower
performing or less relevant campaigns, over time.

depending on the business-objectives, more impressions for
impressions-sake, may not be what is needed or wanted --
rather, more time may be required, before more relevant
impressions, from relevant users, are possible.

(b) clicks --
clicks mainly relate to how the ad is constructed, what the user sees,
where, and when, the ad selected to display, after the auction is won.

for gaining clicks, consider reworking the ad-copy -- with a clear call-to-action,
highly relevant extensions, and a unique, pointed, set of competitive advantages.

(c) conversions/leads --
for gaining conversions, consider a better website and landing-page
with respect to mobile devices, and the above-the-fold details being
more tightly coupled to the ad-copy and specific call-to-actions.

generally, measure first, then carefully monitor and
inspect the measurements, during and after any change.

self-competition within the live ad-auctions should not happen --
unless an advertiser is violating the unfair-advantage policies;
google preselects keywords, from among different advertisors,
that will compete, immediately after each search and just prior

to the corresponding live auction.

that said, legal related advertising can be some of the most competitive and
most expensive, across the entire ad landscape; depending on the details,
one click may cost many tens, or hundreds, of dollars -- simply increasing
the budget and bids may be all that is necessary, or can be done.

see also