I don’t care for the cultural impulse to shorten a word or phrase into a cutesy fraction of its former self. For example, I’ve heard “sosh meeds” as a shorthand for Social Media. I’m sure you’ve heard someone refer to a presentation as a “preso.” Go ahead and eye-roll at that for a second. I know that this gutting of language is performative and tongue-in-cheek, but my cranky, elder-millennial sensibilities don’t like it. 

One of the benefits of working for an agency that is a Google Premier Partner is meeting regularly with a Google representative who provides a catalog of insights, betas, and recommendations. Recently, I asked their take on where my main focus should be for a newly acquired account. I was surprised to hear their response: “Opti-Score!” 

Let me break this down:

  1. The fact that it’s nick-named signals that it’s becoming more of a presence in Google culture. 
  2. This was their top recommendation meaning they’re likely being asked to push this as a priority for their clients. 

If you work in Google Ads, then surely you’re aware of the Optimization Score. It’s assigned at the Manager Account, Account, and Campaign levels. Your score tells you how well you’re measuring up to your full Google potential on a scale of 1%-100%. Think of it as a nagging parent reminding you of all that you could be if only you shaved your beard and stopped slouching. It means well, but it can’t always take into account your true business goals and objectives. According to Google, it’s “calculated in real-time, based on the statistics, settings, and the status of your account and campaigns, the relevant impact of available recommendations, and recent recommendations history.” It can also change based on factors like your settings and trends in the ads ecosystem. Google wants you to apply all of its recommendations to hit 100%. As marketers, we know instinctively that this is a bad idea, especially if the recommendation is out of goal alignment. However, I hold that it can’t hurt to selectively apply recommendations that make sense. For larger recommendations, like switching a bidding strategy, split test with an experiment first. 

Things you might not know about Optimization Score 

  1. Google rewards you for applying its recommendations – next to each recommendation, there’s a percentage lift that the campaign’s optimization score will receive if applied.
  2. It’s updated frequently. This means it’s a moving target that you have to keep up with on the regs (see what I did there? Ew.)
  3. The total score, if all individual recommendation scores were added up, could equal more than 100. This is because applying some recommendations might invalidate other recommendations.
  4. Be sure to “dismiss” recommendations if they don’t actually make sense for your goals or campaign structure. Theoretically, this should help the machine learn. However, recommendations can return later if Google deems it relevant again. 
  5. Late last year, Google extended Optimization score to Display Campaigns 
  6. Optimization score is not used by your Quality Score or your Ad Rank 

If Google thinks Optimization Score is so important that it needs an informal monicker, we should pay attention. At the very least, check it once a week. Apply recommendations that make sense and dismiss ones that are irrelevant. Accounts that perform well in my experience have above 70% optimization score. However, it’s hard to discern exactly what any account should strive for regarding this metric since it’s continually being recalculated based on your previous application behavior and the ads ecosystem. While Google claims it’s not currently a direct factor in Ad Rank and Quality Score, I don’t think it’s outside of the realm of possibility that it could be in the future. Obviously, do not apply recommendations that run counter to your account priorities, but do throw Google’s recommendations a bone every once in a while and hit apply.