Google continues to provide advertisers with new and helpful ways to analyze search data. While they didn’t roll out a whole new UI this time, their update to search ad position metrics is still pretty useful.
Gone are the days of relying only on Average Position to get a sense of where your ad is showing up on the SERP. While average position is a helpful metric to use when analyzing campaigns and making bid adjustments, it doesn’t give you the complete picture of where your ads are appearing on the SERP. It only tells you the order that your ad appears compared to other ads in the auction.
For example, an Average Position of 3 tells you that your ad is, on average, in the third position on the SERP, which is usually above the organic results. However, Google sometimes shows only one or two ads above the organic results. Take this search for “banks near me” as an example:
Two ads appear above the organic results, but the third ad is at the very bottom of the page below the Google Map and organic results. Think that ad gets much visibility? Probably not. In this case, average position fails to give a clear picture of where your ad is actually showing up. The difference in positions 2 and 3 is pretty drastic.
Google is introducing new search ad position metrics
To solve this problem and provide advertisers with clearer information around ad position, Google is rolling out four new search ad position metrics over the next several weeks. Let’s check them out.
What are the new search ad position metrics?
- (Absolute Top) %
- The percent of your ad impressions that are shown as the very first ad above the organic search results
- (Top) %
- The percent of your ad impressions that are shown anywhere above the organic search results
- Search (Absolute Top) IS
- The impressions you’ve received in the absolute top location (the very first ad above the organic search results) divided by the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive in the top location
- Search (Top) IS
- The impressions you’ve received in the top location (anywhere above the organic search results) compared to the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive in the top location.
When analyzing your ad’s position on the page, you should look at the first two metrics, Impr. (Absolute Top) % and Impr. (Top) %. These will tell you the percentage of ad impressions shown in the very first position above the organic results or in any position above the organic results. These are metrics to pay attention to in order gain a general understanding of true ad position on the SERP.
If you’re looking for bid adjustment opportunities, you should look at the other two metrics, Search (Absolute Top) IS and Search (Top) IS. These will give you insight into your share of eligible top impressions. For example, if a keyword is converting well but has a low Search (Top) IS, there’s an opportunity to increase the bid and show up more often above the organic results.
Note: Google is working on incorporating these share metrics into automated bidding options.
Use cases for new search ad position metrics
Better understanding of ad position
Now that Google is providing more information around true ad position, jump into your accounts and check out the metrics! Compare average position to the new Impression % metrics to see what relationships you can find. For example, here are two campaigns with a similar average position, but a different Impr. (Top) %.
While position 2 in the first campaign is above the organic results 94% of the time, position 2 for the second campaign is above the organic results only 67% of the time. This tells us that the SERP is organized much differently for the searches coming through the two campaigns. CTR is also much lower in campaign 2 because of the lower Impr. (Top) %—a lot of impressions are shown below the organic results, which is likely resulting in fewer clicks.
Additionally, these metrics can give you better insights into how you perform on mobile. Because of smaller screens, ad positions above the organic results are extremely valuable, and these metrics can tell you how often you’re showing up there.
As I mentioned earlier, Search (Absolute Top) IS and Search (Top) IS give you insight into your share of eligible top impressions. If a keyword is converting at a good cost and has a low Search (Top) IS, there might be an opportunity to increase the bid and show up more often above the organic results. If you only look at average position or regular Impression Share, you might miss that opportunity since those metrics don’t tell you as much about your true ad position.
How to Use the new Search Ad Position Metrics
Overall, these new search ad position metrics will arm advertisers with more valuable information around true ad position on the SERP. Whether you’re just trying to understand where your ad is showing up, or trying to get your ads in more prominent positions, all four new metrics can help you out.