How to Manage your Search ads on Google without Average Position

Google has announced that Average Position (one of the original search metrics ), will be retired for good on September 30, 2019. It is indeed a big change to digest & the very announcement has led seasoned marketers to scramble for alternatives.

While over the years, there has been concerns about credibility of Average Position as a metrics in measuring success of a campaign – marketers couldn’t just let it go. It has been a really handy metric to validate your bidding strategy & to tell great stories to your clients about how your Ads are showing ahead of competitors. Now with the good old war-horse gone: what options do we have for plotting such awesome stories? More importantly , How do we know if we are bidding right?

Average Position Alternative : Use Impression Top & Impression absolute top rate

Where on SERP (Search Engine Result page) are Ads shown ? Actually it’s all over the place – on the top , at the side, between two organic results and even beyond page one.

However, the Ads that are shown at the top of the page are the most effective ones. For a particular search result there can be up to 4 ads in this slot. Google recently introduced 2 new metrics to measure how many times your Ads make it to the coveted top 4:

Impression Top percentage :

Impression Top percentage is the proportion of impressions for which your Ad showed up in one of the top 4 positions. Do note, it’s absolutely necessary that your ad has to be shown above all organic results for it to be considered by the metric.

Consider the following example: For a particular search result only 2 ads showed up on top of page. Your Ad showed up next but it was at the bottom of page 1. This impression wouldn’t count as a “Top Impression” (though the position of your Ad is 3 ).

Impression Absolute Top percentage:

Impression absolute top percentage is the proportion of impressions where your Ad is not at the top of the SERP and also ahead of all other Ads.

Consider the following example: For a particular search result , there are no ads at the top of the page. Your Ad is the first one to show but it shows somewhere in between page 1 results. In this case, the impression wouldn’t count as an “Absolute Top Impression” (though the position of your Ad is 1).

Thus it’s evident that these new metrics actually are more helpful than plain & simple Average position. At the end of the day we want clicks & conversions – the chances are high as long as we are on top of the page. Average position unfortunately doesn’t ensure that.

Sample Calculation (position on SERP)

Consider the following Example: Impressions: 1000 , Impression Top (%): 90% , Impression Absolute Top (%): 75%

Impressions in Top of page position = 90% *1000 = 900
Impressions in Absolute Top position = 75% *1000 = 750
Impressions where you didn’t have Top of page position = 1000-900= 100
Impressions where you had position 2+ but top of page = 900 -750 = 150

Making sense of Auction Insights (without Average position)

Goes without saying, that Average position is being retired from Auction insights as well. However, the above described metrics in collaboration with other available metrics such as Impression share can tell you great insights about your competitor’s strategy. Consider a couple of Scenarios:

Low Impression Share , High Impression Top %

When you come across such a competitor – you can be sure that it is running campaigns in a subset of your target. For example, you may be running a pan-US campaign – while this competitor is interest in NYC only. You may have to worry about this competitor selectively.

High Impression Share, Low Impression Top %

In this case your competitor is not doing a great job targeting OR managing budget. It clearly doesn’t know where to target & thus it’s seen everywhere. However, without a top position it’s unlikely to be a bother.

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