competitive metrics

Average Position Is Gone, Now What?

For those of you that aren’t aware, Google Ads removed the average position at the end of September. This was first announced in February, so yes, we’ve had time to prepare. If you’re like us and have been using average position for years, you were still looking at it until the end of September. It’s now gone and we have no other choice, but to move on.

The primary reason for the removal of this metric according to Google is that since they removed the right side ad positions, the average position metric has lost much of its value.

What’s Next?

At some point over the past year Google Ads moved the average position metric away from the performance columns and into the competitive metrics column set. When competitive metrics first were released it consisted of the following:

  • Search Impression Share

  • Search Lost Impression Share (rank)

  • Search Lost Impression Share (budget)

  • Search Exact Match Impression Share

To prepare for the sunsetting of average position Google added the following metrics in November 2018:

  • Search Top Impression Share

  • Search Absolute Top Impression Share

  • Search Lost Top Impression Share (rank)

  • Search Lost Absolute Top Impression Share (rank)

  • Search Lost Top Impression Share (budget)

  • Search Lost Absolute top Impression Share (budget)

The original columns still exist and if you look closely you’ll notice two key differences in the newer columns. One is the word top and the other is the word absolute. Now, what do those mean? (see screenshot below)

average position sunset.png

Absolute Top: Absolute top is the highest position of sponsored ads on the page, or position 1

Top: Top is anywhere above the organic search results in the top 4 positions. This includes position 1.

How Are The New Competitive Metrics Calculated?

Search Top Impression Share

Search top impression share column will show as Search top IS. This is the impressions you’ve received in the top location (above the organic search results) divided by the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive. Keep in mind, this is not the % your ad showed on top based on the impressions you received, but on the impressions you were ELIGIBLE to receive. Important differentiator.

Search top impression share = Impressions on top/eligible impressions on top


Search Absolute Top Impression Share

Search absolute top impression share will show as Search abs. top IS. This metric is the percentage of impressions you received in the absolute top location (position 1 above organic results) divided by the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive in the top location. Again, the percent you were ELIGIBLE to receive.

Absolute top impression share = Impressions on absolute top/eligible impressions on top


Both of these metrics above are going to be relative to the search impression share metric. Whenever you’re looking at the or absolute top impression share, you’ll always want to be aware of what your total impression share is.

Search Lost Top Impression Share (rank)

Search lost top impression share rank will show as Search Lost Top IS (rank). This metric is an estimate of how often your ad didn’t show on the top positions (anywhere above organic search results) due to a poor ad rank.

Search Lost Absolute Top Impression Share (rank)

Search lost absolute top impression share rank will show as Search Lost abs. Top IS (rank). This metric is the estimate of how often your ad wasn’t the top ad above the organic search results due to poor ad rank.

Search Lost Top Impression Share (budget)

Search lost top impression share (budget) will show as Search Lost Top IS (budget). This metric is to see the estimated percentage of impressions you missed out on in the top location (above organic search results) based on a low budget.

Search Lost Absolute top Impression Share (budget)

Search Lost Absolute Top Impression Share (budget) will show as Search lost abs. top IS (budget). This metric is the estimate of how often your ad wasn’t the first ad above the organic search results based on a low budget.


Here’s an example of what these can all look like together:

google ads competitive impression share.png

As you read above and how Google describes these new metrics, there are some important aspects to be aware of. Top impression share is the percent your ad impressions that are shown anywhere above the organic search results and the absolute top is the percent of your ad impressions that are shown as the very first ad above the organic search results.

Why is that important? If there are shopping ads or home service ads in the number one position, you can be the number one search text ad, but that wouldn’t count as the absolute position. See screenshot below:

The shopping ads are in the absolute top position and the ad for Patagonia, while it’s the number 1 text ad, it’s not in the absolute top, but just the top.

Conclusion:

While this change takes some getting used to, in no time you’ll forget average position ever existed. What we love about the new metrics is they are more helpful to understand how much room you have to get more impressions at a higher position.

Keep in mind there are ads shown on the bottom of the page and the impressions on the bottom could greatly skew the average position metric. Those bottom of the page impressions don’t interfere when looking at top and absolute impression share. If you want to see how many impressions were on the bottom, you can segment by top vs other.