How the Google Ads auction works

Google Ads determines which ads should show with a lightning-fast ad auction, which takes place every time someone searches on Google or visits a site that shows ads.

AdWords ad auction

There are 6 main factors in the ad auction that determine which ads appear, and in what order:

  • Your bid: When you set your bid, you're telling Google Ads the maximum amount that you're willing to pay for a click on your ad. How much you actually end up paying is often less, and you can change your bid at any time.
  • The quality of your ads: Google Ads also looks at how relevant and useful your ad and the website it links to are to the person who'll see it. Our assessment of the quality of your ad is summarised in your Quality Score, which you can monitor in your Google Ads account.
  • The expected impact from your ad assets and other ad formats: When you create your ad, you've the option to add additional information to your ad, such as a phone number or more links to specific pages on your site. These additions are called ad assets. Google Ads estimates how assets and other ad formats you use will impact your ad's performance. So even if your competition has higher bids, you can still win a higher position at a lower price by using highly relevant keywords, ads and assets.
  • Your ad rank thresholds: To help ensure high-quality ads, we set minimum quality thresholds that an ad must achieve in order to show in a particular ad position.
  • The context of your ad: With the ad auction, context matters. When calculating Ad Rank, we look at the search terms the person has entered, the person’s location at the time of the search, the type of device they’re using (for example, mobile or desktop), the time of the search, the nature of the search terms, other ads and search results that show on the page and other user signals and attributes.
  • The competitiveness of an auction – If 2 ads competing for the same position have similar Ad Ranks, each will have a similar opportunity to win that position. As the gap in Ad Rank between 2 advertisers’ ads grows, the higher-ranking ad will be more likely to win but also may pay a higher cost per click for the benefit of the increased certainty of winning.

Together, these 6 factors determine when and if your ad will appear to potential customers.

Learn more about how adjusting your keyword bids can help you create a cost-effective campaign.

Note: If multiple keywords from the same account are eligible to match the same search term, they don't compete with each other in the auction. Learn more about similar keywords in a Google Ads account

Sign up for a Google Ads account today and follow along with this guide.

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