Google AdWords Bug Causes Quality Scores to Drop Massively

As Search Engine Journal has reported and our employees can confirm, Google AdWords is currently experiencing massive technical problems. The result has been a considerable drop in Quality Scores across all AdWords accounts, for both brand- and non-brand campaigns, of between 3 and 6 points! Brand campaigns seem to be affected most severely.

At our request, a Google employee shared with us that the problem is most likely just an issue with Quality Score reporting and that other auction time signals of quality, such as bids, should not be affected. Nonetheless, we’ve seen cost increases of up to 250%!

*update 30/03* The bug on quality score reporting has been fixed according to ‘AdWords Ads’ on G+. Within crealytics, all quality scores seem to be back to normal and CPCs back to being stable again. Nevertheless, we saw increased costs for some of our customers regarding brand traffic…

How should advertisers react? 

The timing of this problem is especially inconvenient with the weekend right around the corner. Google has acknowledged the issue, but it’s unclear how long it will take to resolve it. Until then, we recommend that advertisers do the following:

  1. Review your accounts to see whether they have been affected. Even if they have not, keep watching closely.
  2. Ifyouhave been affected:
    1. Make a backup of your account data.
    2. Allow brand campaigns to continue running. Even at higher costs, these still generate comparatively good revenue.
    3. Reduce the bids for non-brand keywords. The exact percentage will depend on your target market, customers and budget objectives. A 15% reduction should be sufficient.
    4. Reload your backup data as soon as Google announces that the bug has been resolved.
  3. Be sure to check your campaign performance at least twice a day over the weekend and repeat the previous steps if necessary.

Above all, service providers should contact clients if necessary to explain the situation.


Maximilian Hainlein

I'm working for crealytics as Social Media and Marketing Manager since 2011. My motto: "It's better to be the needle than the haystack."

  • Dang ya I almost had a heart attack this morning… Have scores of 9 drop to 5-6. Finally realized it was affecting all of my AdWords accounts. Thanks for posting this!

    • Maximilian Hainlein

      Hi Brian, you’re welcome! Google announced yesterday, that the bug affecting quality scores is now fixed. They also recommend that if you paused any keywords, you should un-pause them now in order to see the correct scores. These paused keywords will not reflect the correct score until one or two hours after being un-paused.

      • Hey thanks for the update! I’m about to hit the sack… but I definitely got some “un-pausing” to do first thing in the morning 🙂