In early November, Google released four new search ad position metrics. These metrics are being rolled out to accounts now, so keep in mind they might not be available in your Google Ads accounts yet. Keep reading to learn about these new metrics and how you should adjust the way you’re currently measuring ad position.
New Metric Definitions
- Impression (Absolute Top) %: Percent of ad impressions when your ad was shown in the first position on the results page. The Absolute Top is the very first ad shown in the group of ads above the organic results.
- Impression (Top) %: Percent of ad impressions when your ad was shown in any position above organic results.
- Search (Absolute Top) Impression Share: Number of ad impressions shown in the very first position on the results page divided by the number of ad impressions for which you were in theory able to show an ad in the very first position.
- Search (Top) Impression Share: Number of ad impressions shown in any position above the organic results divided by the number of ad impressions for which you were in theory able to show in a position above the organic results.
Absolute Top is the very first ad on the search results page while Top includes all ads above the organic listings. Below is an example of what Impression (Absolute Top) % and Impression (Top) % look like in the Google Ads UI. For this campaign, 57.47% of ad impressions were shown in the top section of the search results. 38.74% of ad impressions were shown in the very first result on the page. These new metrics paint a clear picture of where ads appear on the Google results page.
What about Average Position?
Google’s definition of Average Position often gets looked over by advertisers. Google’s current definition of Average Position is “a statistic that describes how your ad typically ranks against other ads. This rank determines in which order ads appear on the page.” The new ad position metrics are more exact in showing the position on the page related to ads and organic posts while Average Position can be misleading if you aren’t also taking Impression Share into consideration.
Still unsure about what exactly Average Position is? Consider reading Demystifying Average Position in AdWords by Hanapin Marketing’s Diane Chelius.
New Impression Share Metrics vs. Average Position
Even before the new ad position metrics were released, Average Position only provided part of the story. For example, the below campaign has a strong Average Position of 1.5. When taking Impression Share into consideration, however, we know that ads only show 50.98% of the time when eligible.
The Absolute Top and Top Impression Share metrics give even more context to where the ad is being shown. Let’s say the bid strategy for this campaign is to get as close to the top search result as possible as often as possible. If we were to only look at Average Position, we would think this campaign’s bid strategy is aligned with our goals. Now looking at the Absolute Top and Top Impression Share metrics, however, it’s clear ads in this campaign are only showing in the top few results 32.66% of the time and are showing just 21.99% of the time in the very top ad position.
You should also use the competitive metrics columns to not only review lost Impression Share due to rank and budget, but also lost Absolute Top Impression Share and lost Top Impression Share.
Taking a look at the new metrics for the campaign in the previous example, we can see that even though Average Position looks strong at 1.5, 78% of ad impressions which could have been in the very first position on the page missed out on that spot due to ad rank factors. Through improving Quality Score, increasing bids, etc. we could see lost Absolute Top Impression Share due to rank decrease.
If you are less interested in the absolute first position and prefer to ensure ad impressions are in the top group of ads, take a look at the Top Impression Share metrics instead. As shown below, this campaign has a 67.34% lost Top Impression Share due to rank. Again, this is reminding us that the 1.5 Average Position is indeed an average and only includes data for instances where the ads are shown. 67.34% of ad impressions which could have been in the top group of ads above organic results missed out on that position due to ad rank. It’s also important to note that this campaign is never limited by budget and therefore has a 0% Lost Impression Share due to budget.
Since Average Position only explains part of the picture, using Average Position by itself to adjust bids isn’t the most effective strategy. If you currently use Average Position criteria for automated bid rules, consider updating that criteria to include Impression metrics as well. All the new ad position metrics are available in the Condition section when setting up automated bid rules.
Above is a simple example of how you could use lost Absolute Top Impression Share due to rank to increase bids. Layer a condition like this with ROAS or CPA conditions to adjust bids based on efficiency and increase ad position and Impression Share. This is a perfect situation to run an experiment in Google Ads to see how adjusting bid rules impacts performance.