Google: Ad Strength not used in Ad Rank

Ad Strength is not a “major factor” that stops a keyword from going to auction, despite what some advertisers may believe. That’s according to Google Ads Liaison Ginny Marvin. 

Ad Strength. Responding to a post on X from an advertiser who said “Ad Strength is a major factor in stopping a keyword from going to auction due to Ad Rank,” Marvin wrote:

  • “Ad Strength is not used in Ad Rank and is *not* a ‘factor in stopping a keyword from going to auction due to Ad Rank’.
  • “Ad Strength is a distinct diagnostic tool. And to reiterate, it’s not a factor in the auction. It simply helps indicate the diversity and relevancy of the assets available to maximize the number of ad combinations that may show for a query. More combinations available typically means you’ll have more opportunities to serve relevant ads in more auctions.”

Why we care. Ad Strength scores don’t always correlate with performance. Many are seeing that ads with bad Ad Strength scores are performing well. Others who believe Ad Strength doesn’t matter may not be looking at this issue from the correct lens.

Ad Rank vs. Ad Strength. Why the confusion? 

PPC influencer Sarah Stemen suggested it’s an issue of what we can see vs what we can’t.

  • “PPC experts have tracked and tried to improve Ad Rank (black box) for years, but Google pushes Ad Strength (transparent) that doesn’t [always] improve results. 
  • “It’s confusing for veterans and challenging to teach new PPCers. Ad Rank’s secrecy, combined with Ad Strength’s prominence in the platform, creates more questions than answers,” Stemen said.

Agency owner Menachem Ani said the confusion stems from the lack of understanding of how each can affect the campaign performance.

  • “They both use a rating system, which ultimately drives your campaign. Ad Rank is more directly related, while Ad Strength is more of a helpful tool for showing where improvement can be made,” Ani said.

Google Ads Coach Jyll Saskin Gales blames it on Google making things complicated:

  • “Google has a knack for making things complicated and for choosing poor naming conventions. Ad rank is one of the most important, fundamental concepts in Google Ads, while Ad Strength merely suggests best practices to consider before enabling your ads,” Gales said.

Google vs. advertiser opinions. The industry has many opinions about how important Ad Strength is. Some of them were shared in our “Google explains why Ad Strength is ‘so important’ as it addresses industry concerns” article. 

Some advertisers dismiss the importance of Ad Strength. Some advertisers believe it’s not worth our concern, while others label it a complete time-waster. 

But Brendon Kraham, Google’s Vice President of Search & Commerce, told Search Engine Land that Ad Strength is “very important” and “is at the centre of what we’re trying to do is because creative is going to be incredibly important, and Ad Strength is going to be the mechanism which we use to evaluate that both in Performance Max and channels like search.”

New on Search Engine Land

About the author

Anu Adegbola

Anu Adegbola has been Paid Media Editor of Search Engine Land since 2024. She covers paid search, paid social, retail media, video and more.

In 2008, Anu’s career started with

 delivering digital marketing campaigns (mostly but not exclusively Paid Search) by building strategies, maximising ROI, automating repetitive processes and bringing efficiency from every part of marketing departments through inspiring leadership both on agency, client and marketing tech side.


Outside editing Search Engine Land article she is the founder of PPC networking event – PPC Live, host of weekly podcast PPCChat Roundup, and if brand evangelist – ClickTech. 


She is also an international speaker with some of the stages she has presented on being SMX (US), SMX (Munich), Friends of Search (Amsterdam), brightonSEO, The Marketing Meetup, HeroConf (PPC Hero), SearchLove, BiddableWorld, SESLondon, PPC Chat Live, AdWorld Experience (Bologna) and more.

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