Adwords Auto-Suggest in Results?

Doing some research searches today (meaning just searching to see what kind of results appear) I noticed something in the AdWords ads I don’t recall ever seeing before – ads broken down by suggested alternate search queries.

My search was for ‘Amtrak Auto Train’ and the AdWords results showed a few ads for that, and then some ads ‘Related to auto transport’ and others ‘Related to amtrack statsions’ and more ‘Related to amtrak jobs’. There are several significant implications of this to AdWords advertisers.

First, Google is increasing the ad density, putting more ads on the page. While there is no way to know how they’re making these decisions, it seems like in the past they may have only shown three or four resulting ads – only those that achieved a minimum ad rank based on my query and geography – but not rather than leaving the rest of the page blank, they’re showing ads for queries I didn’t enter.

So are they filling what would have been white space, or displacing advertisers who would have otherwise shown in positions 4 through 9?

Second, if my ad is shown in an auto-suggested category, but would not have normally triggered for the actual query, I would expect a much lower CTR. But AdWords only reports the blended CTR of all impressions – not telling me that a bunch were non-targeted suggestions or experimental or whatever.

That could mislead me into rewriting text ads that were actually working.

And does the lower CTR drive down my quality score? It shouldn’t for the keyword, since quality score is only calculated when query = keyword, but what about the impact on my account CTR history, or display URL CTR history?

It’s great that AdWords does these experiments (I”ll assume for now that’s what this is).

It would be great-er if they’d issue a blanket statement saying ‘no advertiser was harmed in the performance of these experiments’.

Anyone else seeing this? What do you think it means?

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