Google is sunsetting the average position metric: How will it impact you?

In a bid to encourage a more competitive landscape, Google has sunset the average position metric and replaced this with impression-share based metrics.

What we know about the impression share metrics

We know that the following metrics have replaced the average position:

  • Impression share (top of page)
  • Impression share (absolute top of page)

Not only does this change the way we understand how our keywords are ranking, but it also changes the way we bid for our ads to appear in a certain area if the SERP. Therefore, for many PPC campaigns, you’ll need to use an SA360 bidding strategy which aims for a specific impression, especially for brand terms, to ensure you are as visible as possible.

So what’s the alternative to positional bidding?

Impression share bid strategies will replace this bidding strategy and will aim for either ‘top of the page’, ‘absolute top of the page’ or ‘anywhere in the page’, with a target impression share you’ll aim for accordingly.

But how do you know what you want to aim for? Don’t panic, at the moment, you can still see how your average position stacks up against impression share metrics in Google Ads. However, be aware that Google will be removing the metric from the engine on 30th September! We suggest that you take a download of your historic data so you have a benchmark moving forward.

The impression share bid strategies target either the ‘top of the page’, ‘absolute top of the page’ or ‘anywhere on the page’, with the % impression share you have specified. An important aspect to note is that you can still set a maximum bid to have control over your cost-per-clicks.

You might be wondering which metric to aim for. Below gives you an indication of what bid strategy targets specific positions, and which metrics review those specific types. You are not able to switch between ad position within the same bid strategy so make sure to pick the right one for you before setting a new bid strategy.



How do the impression share bid strategies stack up against positional?

We tested the impression share bid strategies for a client, moving their brand campaigns across to test the impact on conversions.

  • We tested ‘top of page’ impression share bid strategy which aimed for 90%. Whilst this method increased conversions and average position slightly, inevitably as the bid strategy pushed for a higher position, cost-per-clicks were roughly 25% higher.
  • Following this, we tested an ‘absolute top of page’ impression share bid strategy, which significantly increased the volume of conversions. This method also increased the average position to 1.06, whilst also increasing the cost-per-action and cost-per-click accordingly.
  • Ultimately, the client was happy with the new volume of conversions we were able to drive through to the brand, thereby acknowledging the value of this for driving their business.

Some top tips & things to consider with the new metric

  • Review what position you are at currently before google removes the view option on the 30th of September.
  • Test all three bid strategies; if you don’t test each option, you won’t be able to tell how well each could perform. So it’s important to experiment with different impressions.
  • Segment your activity and apply different bid strategies based on your goals and targets, in order to have better control over performance and increase effectivity.
  • Set a target for your bid strategy: for example, use the last 14 days of historical performance for each bidding strategy as a guide.
  • In order to give your campaigns enough time to showcase its effectiveness, wait seven days before assessing the performance of each strategy.
  • Any rules of custom columns which were built in SA360 will need to be changed.
  • Review any scripts which depend on the average position metric.
  • Bing does not support this feature, so you will have to continue using a positional bidding strategy for this search engine, although we have heard this support maybe be arriving soon in SA360.

To find out more about Croud’s PPC services or to get support on this new Google update, get in touch.

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