I posted earlier this month about an experiment using Google AdWords to advertise this blog. I hadn’t logged into my account for a fews days and when I did, I was floored – ‘soccer’ had suddenly gotten a LOT more expensive.

A quick primer on how AdWords works. Advertisers pick a set of keywords or search phrases that will trigger their text ads, both on the right hand side of Google search results and also in the AdSense advertising bars you see on websites everywhere (including this one). You set a maximum price per click you are willing to pay for each keyword you have. Keywords are constantly assessed for ‘Quality’ and are assigned a minimum price for them to ‘activate’ and trigger your ad. If the minimum bid per click is less than your maximum cost per click you are willing to pay, that keyword will trigger you are for display.

So what happened?

When I got started, I selected 15 or so keywords like ‘youth soccer’, ‘soccer moms’, ‘U8 soccer’, ‘soccer practice’, ‘coaching soccer’, etc. to trigger my ads. Most keywords would start out at 5 cents a click. After a week the pricing seemed to stabilize where most keywords had a minimum bid of 10 to 20 cents. ‘soccer moms’ was the most popular keyword for me by far and hit 50 cents a click. The more popular keywords in terms of ad impressions seemed to be the most expensive, which made sense.

When I logged in this morning, I almost fell out of my chair. Every keyword in my campaign has ‘soccer’ as a part of it and every single keyword’s minimum bid per click had hit $1.00! The cost per click for ads triggered by ‘soccer moms’ and ‘soccer mom’ was now $5.00! They couldn’t be serious. Even keywords which had relatively few ad impressions, let alone clicks, had hit $1.00 per click. Since my maximum cost per click was 50 cents, my entire campaign had gone inactive.

So what caused the sudden huge spike in cost? It is tough to tell. One strong possibility is some other deep pocketed advertisers started up soccer related campaigns with similar keywords, which can drive up the bidding for keywords. I’m surprised that something like that could cause a magnitude increase, but there’s know way to know for sure. Google mentions other factors related to ‘Quality Score’ which is determined by "your keyword’s click-through rate (CTR), relevance of your ad text, historical keyword performance, the quality of your ad’s landing page, and other relevancy factors". I’d say my keywords are relevant to my blog’s content (soccer) but who knows. A quick check of Google Trends doesn’t show any significant uptick in search traffic for most of my keywords.
My ‘landing’ page for my ad is the front page for the blog, which changes daily (front sections of the latest 15 posts) So it is possible that my Quality Scores were affected by the most recent collection of posts and their relevance to my keywords.

Even though there might be other factors involved, in a setup like AdWords where advertisers are ‘bidding’ on keywords to get them to trigger their ads, something tells me some big money just moved into the soccer neighborhood. Which is a great thing for soccer. Advertisers are recognizing a marketing opportunity in a sport we’ve all known was growing in popularity. If that means it raises the cost of advertising this blog, I’m happy to be collateral damage and will just have to make do with my ten readers. Smiley

Filed under ‘Things that make you go hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm‘ I’ll likely continue to play around with the ads and keywords to see what effect it has on the minimum cost per click. But if you’re searching for ‘soccer moms’ you won’t be seeing my ad because there’s no way I’m paying $5 per click!