Google Sunsets Average Position: What Advertisers Should Do

Google Sunsets Average Position: What Advertisers Should Do

In September, Google will sunset one of the oldest Google Ad metrics, average position. Average position has traditionally helped businesses understand how high their ads rank above organic results in search engine results pages (SERPs). Google is replacing average position with four metrics designed to give advertisers a better sense of how their ads are ranking. Let’s unpack this news and its meaning.

What is average position?

As the name implies, average position provides an average for how high your ads appear above organic results in SERPs. Of course, an average rank of Number One is great. But an average is not terribly precise. Even if you enjoy a strong average, your ads still might experience wide variances.

What are the new metrics?

Come September, Google will replace average position with these metrics introduced in November 2018:

  • Absolute top impression rate: the percent of your ad impressions that are shown as the very first ad above the organic search results. This rate is calculated by taking all your Number One impressions divided by the total number of impressions.
  • Top impression rate: the percent of your ad impressions that are shown anywhere above the organic search results. This rate is calculated by dividing the total number of top impressions (above the organic search results) by the total number of impressions.
  • Absolute top impression share: 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.
  • Top impression share: 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.

Think of absolute top impression share and top impression share as a measure of your opportunities to have ads appear either at the top or anywhere above the organic search results. By contrast, absolute top impression rate and top impression rate provide actual results.

Why the change?

The new metric comes down to precision. Google wants advertisers focus on:

  • How often their ads appear above organic results on the first page.

And not:

  • Average ranking.

Of course, having four metrics to worry about makes life more complicated.

Do all these metrics matter?

We believe that the most important metrics are top impression rate to measure actual results – and top impression share to measure potential opportunities. Focusing on absolute top impression rate and absolute top impression share can become costly.

Top impression rate will give you a better idea of how often your ad is appearing above organic search results. Sure, absolute top impression rate will give you a sense of how often you rank Number One – but how many businesses can afford to keep bidding for a Number One ranking? If you are managing a budget, it’s just not realistic to gun for the best possible absolute top impression rate. Top impression rate should suffice.

What exactly is a favorable top impression rate?

You want your ads to appear among Top Four positions in SERPs. But it’s going to take some time and experimentation for you as an advertiser to figure out your ideal top impression rate.

What should advertisers do next?

This is a period of experimenting and learning before Google transitions everyone over to the new metrics. So, start using them and learning, availing yourself to Google’s blog content along the way. Two things you should do now:

  • Identify what a top impression rate is for you. To get started, look at historical data. Then test different ad campaigns. This process will require you to examine results and positions and monitor them over time. Also, outcomes for every advertiser will be different. Retail businesses will be different from media/entertainment, education, healthcare, and so on.
  • Monitor your costs per click (CPCs) closely. As your top impression share rate improves, your CPCs are going to increase.

Of course, True Interactive is here to help. We’ve been managing all aspects of performance marketing for years. Contact us for more insight. We know how to deliver results.

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