The rising prominence of mobile—and the growing awareness of the importance of good user experience—came to the fore yesterday when Google announced that AdWords ads will be dinged with lowered quality scores if they lead visitors to poor mobile experiences. That’s right—a Google ad that points to a website that doesn’t render well on mobile devices will cost more, rank lower, and possibly not show at all.
Quality Score (QS) is the score Google gives to ads in its popular AdWords program. It’s based on a variety of factors, and impacts how much an advertiser has to bid for an ad to appear, show up in a prominent placement, and be served on relevant searches. Now, one of those factors will be the mobile user experience. In a blog post announcing the change, Google
explained the impact of pointing visitors to a site that doesn’t work on mobile devices. “A poor mobile web experience can negatively shape a consumer’s opinion of a brand or company and make it hard for them to engage or make a purchase,” noted Google’s David Nachum, the Product Manager for Mobile Ads. He added that “61% of users are unlikely to return to a website that they had trouble accessing from their phone.” This change in Google’s method for calculating QS signals a new maturity for mobile. It also further marks the mainstreaming of user experience from a specialized technical concern to one that is broadly relevant to all marketers. As Google has now signaled again, great user experience is rapidly becoming essential to an effective marketing campaign, across all platforms.