Google Ads: The End of 'Average Position'

Google Ads: The End of 'Average Position'

Google Ads has announced that it will sunset 'average position', one of the original search metrics, in September of this year. Eastside Co PPC Specialist Jed Brookes-Lewis looks into the impact of this.

Written by Jed Brookes-Lewis

2 min read

Just like Ugg boots, network television and the music of Blazin’ Squad, over the last few years, Google Ads’ ‘average position’ metric has become rather passé and out-dated. Savvy search marketers now prefer to measure their success in more sophisticated ways, especially with the rise of automated bidding: focussing on serving the right ad to the right user at the right time, instead of blanket ownership of the top of the SERP (search engine results page). In response to this, Google recently announced that they will be removing the average position value from the Google Ads platform, leaving the recently-introduced “Impression (Absolute Top) %”, “Impression (Top) %”, “Search Absolute Top Impression Share” and “Search (Top) Impression Share” metrics as the primary method to measure where your ads are appearing on the search results page. In this blog, I will explore why this change has been made and how you can use these new metrics to drive success across your accounts moving forward.

What is the Google Ads 'Average Position' Metric?

Firstly, let’s consider what average position is (or, rather, was). At its most simple, average position refers to the order in which ads appeared on the search result and what position your ads would be across the searches it was eligible to show for

The downside of ad position as a metric is that it only looks at the order ads appear in and does not consider the location on the SERP an ad appeared in. Just because you are appearing in position 1, your ad won’t necessarily be at the top of the page, it could easily be found beneath the organic results or other search categories Google offers (images, maps etc.). Average position, therefore, does not always tell the full story on where your ads are showing and has previously led to confusion for advertisers.

Due to these limitations, and as mentioned above, Google has looked to move towards metrics that give details of where ads are actually appearing, as opposed to the simple number that “Average Position” provided. These new measurables can be summarised thusly:

Top Impression Rate

Top impression rate tells you the percentage of your total impressions that are coming from the top of the SERP (above the organic results). The formula to calculate this is as follows:

Top impression rate = Top impressions / Total impressions

Absolute Top Impression Rate

Absolute top impression rate tells you the percentage of your total impressions that are coming from the very top of the SERP. The formula to calculate this is as follows:

Absolute top impression rate = Absolute top impressions / Total impressions

Top Impression Share

Top impression share tells you the rate at which you’re turning opportunities to appear at the top of the SERP into actual impressions at the top of the SERP. The formula to calculate this is as follows:

Top impression share = Top impressions / Eligible top impressions

Absolute Top Impression Share

Absolute top impression share tells you the rate at which you’re turning opportunities to appear at the very top of the SERP into actual impressions at the very top of the SERP.

Absolute top impression share = Absolute top impressions / Eligible absolute top impressions

Whilst this does seem like a major change of tack from Google as to how ads’ visibility is measured, it should not have a major impact. Ad position has become far less important as a measurable in recent times, with little variation in how an ad performs in position 1 or immediately below in position 2. The new metrics that have been introduced focus far more on ads’ actual visibility, allowing marketers to make smart optimisation decisions based on it.

Whether you’re just starting out, or are a PPC wizard, why not get in touch with the PPC experts here at Eastside Co to discuss your search visibility and how it can be improved.

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