Recently, there has been a lot of discussion about Ad Strength in Google Ads, including debate about its value, how it works, whether it plays a role in the auction (it doesn’t), and how to think about it in your accounts.

Like almost everything in paid advertising, there’s nuance to Ad Strength. No, it’s not a perfect indicator of how your ads will perform nor do well-performing ads with lower Ad Strength mean it’s useless information.

And what’s up with Ad Strength decreasing with pinning? We’ll get into that, too.

What Is Ad Strength?

It’s first important to understand the fundamentals of Ad Strength and what it’s designed to reflect.

Ad Strength is a diagnostic tool developed with the introduction of responsive search ads (RSAs) to help advertisers understand how the diversity and relevancy of their creative assets can maximize the number of relevant ad combinations that may show for a query.

More ad combinations typically mean more opportunities to show relevant ads to more users.

Ad Strength has four ratings: Poor, Average, Good, or Excellent.

As you construct or edit your RSAs, you’ll see the Ad Strength rating adjust in real-time as you build out or edit your assets.

Having a variety of quality assets (e.g., ensuring your headlines aren’t repetitive) is not only helpful for the system to learn, but it also gives you the opportunity to serve relevant assets to subsets of searchers you may not have reached otherwise.

This is why you may see some assets perform well even though they have a relatively low number of impressions.

Why Does Google Ads Seem To Put So Much Emphasis On Ad Strength?

After years of building and testing static text ads, RSAs required a mindset shift in how to build, test, and optimize search ads.

The fundamentals of what makes a good ad haven’t changed, but the mechanics have.

Responsive search ads use AI to test and learn which assets and ad combinations perform best for each query.

Ad Strength was developed to give advertisers a tool to understand which attributes have been shown to correlate with the increased performance of RSAs.

You may have seen the stat that advertisers who improve Ad Strength for their responsive search ads from “Poor” to “Excellent” see 12% more conversions on average.

That’s a look across search campaigns globally, and of course, your actual performance improvements may vary from that average. However, it’s a statistically significant indication that Ad Strength can be a useful tool to consider as you build out and test your ads.

What Does Ad Strength Look At?

Ad Strength looks at four categories that have been shown to result in better performance through Google regression analyses (holdback experiments).

The categories Ad Strength looks at are:

  • Number of headlines.
  • Keyword relevance of headlines and descriptions.
  • Uniqueness of headlines.
  • Uniqueness of description lines.

The score reflects the variety and relevancy of your assets. Rating-to-rating improvements are expected to result in increased performance based on the factors we’ve seen lead to improvement.

Note that Ad Strength also now takes automatically created assets into account if enabled in your campaign.

We’ve also introduced the Ad Strength concept to Performance Max campaigns. More on that in a bit.

Is Ad Strength A Factor In The Auction?

This is probably the biggest misconception I hear about Ad Strength. No, Ad Strength is not a factor in the auction.

Ad Strength is a feedback mechanism for your creative assets. It is meant to be used as a helpful guide to improve the effectiveness of your ads. It is not used directly in the auction.

Ad Strength has no effect on bidding or the ability of your ads to enter the auction.

To quote directly from the “About Ad Strength” article in the Help Center:

“The Ad Strength rating of an ad doesn’t directly influence your ad’s serving eligibility.

Instead, the Ad Strength rating identifies opportunities (during the ad creation or editing stage) to improve your ads to optimize their performance.”

Does A Low Ad Strength Rating Limit My Impressions Or Prevent My Ads From Serving?

A low Ad Strength could explain a lack of impressions because it indicates that your ads likely don’t have the asset diversity or relevancy to be eligible for many auctions, and your ads are not resonating with users.

However, a low Ad Strength does not prevent ads from entering into auctions. Ad Strength is not a factor in the auction. In other words, the system doesn’t “hold back” or “promote” ads based on Ad Strength.

Ad Strength is a forward-looking tool that reflects whether you’re maximizing the number of high-quality, relevant ad combinations your ad can serve.

Is Ad Strength Related To Quality Score Or Ad Rank?

No.

The Quality Score that is shown in your account is a separate (and older) diagnostic tool that looks at expected ad click-through rate, ad relevance, and landing page experience.

It’s worth noting that Quality Score is also not used in the auction. Keywords are given a Quality Score based on historical impressions for exact searches of the keyword.

Quality Score reflects some of the values in Ad Rank, which determines whether your ad is eligible to show and where your ad is ranked relative to other eligible advertisers’ ads.

Ad Strength is not used in Ad Rank.

Further, bidding plays no role in Ad Strength.

Why Does Pinning Change My Ad Strength Rating?

We know pinning can be necessary and valuable, but it restricts the number of ad combinations that can be matched to a query.

That’s why you’ll see an impact on the Ad Strength when you use pinning. A lower Ad Strength score shouldn’t stop you from pinning when needed or helpful.

It’s also why we recommend pinning two or three headlines or descriptions to each position when possible to increase the number of combinations available. We know many advertisers find this to be a successful strategy.

What Should I Do If I See A Low Ad Strength Notification?

When you’re creating new ads, you’ll see Ad Strength suggestions based on the categories covered above.

Are these recommendations hard and fast rules? No. Like any best practice, they’re recommended starting points based on observed past performance.

A low Ad Strength notice indicates that your ads may have limited impression opportunities based on the number, diversity, and relevancy of the assets you’ve provided.

Again, though, a low Ad Strength won’t prevent your ads from entering auctions.

And, yes, you may see ads with lower Ad Strength perform well and meet your targets.

However, there may still be opportunities to remove low-rated assets and test new ones, or to add new assets that could appeal to subsets of your target audiences, for example.

Does High Ad Strength Guarantee Strong Performance?

Across campaigns globally, we see better performance on average when there is at least one ad with Good or Excellent Ad Strength in each ad group.

However, Good or Excellent Ad Strength doesn’t necessarily guarantee your ad will meet your performance expectations.

Regardless of your Ad Strength rating, you should continue to evaluate the performance of your ads and assets and continue testing and optimizing.

What Is Ad Strength In Performance Max & Demand Gen?

Ad Strength was introduced in Performance Max in February. In Performance Max, Ad Strength reflects the quantity and variety of assets that can serve across Google channels, not just search.

For example, Poor Ad Strength in Performance Max reflects that an asset group doesn’t have the breadth of assets to serve on all available inventory formats – and an Excellent Ad Strength reflects that you’ve included all asset types and have a diverse variety of text and other assets.

You can read more about the Performance Max asset recommendations for text, images, videos, and more in the Help Center here.

Similarly, Ad Strength is also available in Demand Gen campaigns. In this Help Center article, you’ll find Ad Strength guidelines for the various ad formats supported in Demand Gen, including single image, dynamic, carousel, and video.

How Should I Use Ad Strength?

To put it all together, Ad Strength is a feedback mechanism for creative content and meant to be used as a helpful guide to improve the effectiveness of your ads.

Ad Strength is a tool. It isn’t a key performance indicator (KPI). It isn’t used in the auction. It shouldn’t inhibit your testing.

Use Ad Strength as a guide to understand what may help improve performance during ad creation and optimization.

The reason we recommend having at least one ad with Good or Excellent Ad Strength per ad group is because that’s what has been shown to increase conversion performance on average.

To dive in even deeper, I recommend checking out the Responsive Search Ads technical guide. You’ll find more on Ad Strength on pages 5 and 6 of the guide.

More resources:


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