These Are Not The Ad Positions You’re Looking For

A few weeks ago, I highlighted an article regarding the average position metric in Google Ads in the Clicks and Clients weekly newsletter entitled, ‘In Google Ads, Your Average Position Isn’t Your Average Position. Wait, What?’. Well, today, Google officially announced that they are sunsetting the average position metric this fall.

First, let’s discuss what average position means and what it doesn’t. It is a common and prevalent misconception that the average position metric refers to the literal physical placement your ad appears in within the Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP) – and initially, when Google AdWords was launched – it did. As time has rolled on and Google AdWords has become Google Ads, Google has gone through many iterations of the SERP we all know and love. All of these changes within the SERP mean that the original physical order of the ads is different – long gone are the days of right column ads, for example – therefore, the physical locations that correlated to a certain position may or may not still exist. It is best to think about the position metric more as your ad’s rank and ability to meet Googles requirements to qualify for top placement. Requirements such as quality score, ad rank, ad relevance, and landing page quality help determine this number. This means, if you see you are in first position – thank your PPC manager or give yourself a good pat on the back for making sure your ad’s meet Google’s rigorous relevance guidelines. First position is telling you your ad has the highest score and that it won Google’s auction – not where it exists on the page.

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Thankfully, Google has introduced a few new metrics to help advertisers understand where their ads are: “Impression (Absolute Top) %”, “Impression (Top) %”, “Search Absolute Top Impression Share”, “Search (Top) Impression Share”, and “Click Share”. These are the new holy grail of understanding your ads placement within the SERP. They tell you how often your ads are at the top of the page when they get an impression and what share of all the top of the page impressions they are getting.

The Impression (Absolute Top) % is the percent of your impressions that are shown as the very first ad above the organic search results. Impression (Top) % is the percent of your impressions that are shown anywhere above the organic search results.

Search Absolute Top Impression Share is the percentage of your search ad impressions that are shown in the most prominent search position. Search Top Impression Share is the impressions you’ve received in the top location on the search result page divided by the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive in the top location.

Lastly, Click Share is the percentage of clicks you’ve received on the Search Network divided by the estimated maximum number of clicks that you could have received.

You can use these new metrics to see whether changes in performance are due to changes in your ads’ location and/or to bid on the top page location. These metrics are also going to help you understand your reach within your selected market.

As the search marketing landscape continues to evolve, and Google continues to fine-tune the Ads platform, paired with proper conversion tracking, ensuring that you are looking at the proper metrics is going to be a distinguishing factor between those who find success and those who don’t.