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Search 'Omakase'

TORONTO -- Omakase is the ultimate Japanese food experience where the Sushi chef prepares a meal specifically for the tastes of the individual diner. Omakase also describes the goal of search engines to deliver tailored ads to searchers.

Today, more than 10 years after the search engines first offered that promise, Google and Microsoft in a panel discussion at the Search Engine Strategies Canada here discussed their plans to improve ad relevancy so that users get the Omakase they want.

Jason Dailey, manager of search media operations at Microsoft, said that Microsoft, with its adCenter and Live Search, is striving toward Omakase perfection. Dailey noted that when you combine personalized search with ad relevance and add searcher intent, you get the impact.

"Omakase puts more pressure on the chef since he wants to maintain your trust," Dailey said. "We're trying to make this real; we can do this from a search-algorithm point of view, and we're trying to do it with adCenter."

The key for Microsoft's adCenter is something called Quality Based Ranking, which looks at user intent, which helps determine ad relevancy.

Google has its own ad-relevancy metric called Quality Score. To most, Quality Score has been a mystery as far as how it's, measured but a pair of impending initiatives from Google is about to make it a whole lot more transparent.

Nick Fox, group business product manager for ads quality at Google, said Quality Score is what Google users think about ad relevance as measured by a metric that factors in click-through rate, ad text, keyword and landing-page relevance.

"Obsess over user experience and not Quality Score," Fox advised. "If I'm doing my job and my team is doing their job you're quality score will right."

Fox did admit that Google makes mistakes from time to time on Quality Score. When that happens Fox said Google will make adjustments quickly.

A key part of determining whether Quality Score may or may not be right is greater transparency for search advertisers into how their keywords and ads are being ranked. Fox explained that Google just recently launched a Quality Score column on the user dashboard in Google's AdWords advertising platform. The Quality Score column lets advertisers know at a high level what their score is.

Fox said that in the next week or so Google will launch something called the Search Query Performance Report. This is a new report that shows the performance date for search queries that trigger ads that received clicks.

"The Search Query Performance Report will help advertisers to target for more relevant queries," Fox said.

Sometime in the next several weeks, Google will start beta testing another Quality Score feature called the Keyword Analysis page.

"It's the evolution of the Quality Score column," Fox said. "We're trying to provide insight into why you scored the way you did and where the problem is. We hope this will provide the detail people have been asking for about why quality score is what it is."