As you embark on any kind of PPC initiative, it’s important to define your metrics and clarify how you’ll evaluate your campaign. Google has long offered advertisers a spectrum of metrics to choose from, and historically, one of the more meaningful metrics has been Average Page Position.
Now, that’s changed: It’s been announced that Google is sunsetting the Average Page Position metric, which will no longer be available to advertisers once September 2019 wraps up.
What is Average Position?
If you’re unfamiliar with this metric, here’s a quick explainer. When you’re competing in an AdWords auction, you’re assigned an Ad Rank, which is based on your Quality Score as well as your bid. Your Ad Rank, in turn, helps to determine where your ad lands within the paid search results. In other words, it literally determines the position of your ad.
Here, a word of clarification is in order. When we talk about ad position, we’re talking about the order in which ads are presented, not necessarily the location on the page. In other words, you can achieve the top ad position, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your ad will show up at the very top of the search results page (SERP). It may not show up until other sections of the SERP are displayed. This is most common if Google decides to show Google Guaranteed Ads on a specific search result.
When we talk about average position, then, we’re talking about a helpful way to assess roughly where your ad falls in relation to other ads, but not a specific location on the SERP.
Why Google is Removing Average Position
So why would AdWords eliminate this metric? What it boils down to is that Google simply doesn’t find it to be a very meaningful insight, and they must assume that advertisers feel the same way.
To their credit, Google has rolled out a number of additional metrics that may be helpful to AdWords advertisers. Some of these include:
- Top impression rate (how many of your total impressions are coming from the top of the SERP?)
- Absolute top impression rate (what ratio of your total impressions are coming from the absolute top of the SERP?)
- Top impression share (how often do you turn opportunities to appear at the top of the SERP into actual appearances at the top of the SERP?)
- Absolute top impression share (how often do you turn opportunities to appear at the very top of the SERP into actual impressions?)
In its announcement that average position was being phased out, Google boasted that the four metrics above are all more meaningful to advertisers.
We believe that effective AdWords bidding requires you to have some sense of your prominence on the SERP, and average position provided valuable insight. Our PPC team always found average position to be a useful metric, and we’re sad to see it go. (We should note that ours is not necessarily a consensus view; the reaction in the PPC community has been split, with some joining us in our sadness and others agreeing with Google that this was never that meaningful a metric in the first place.)
With that said, when you’ve been managing and optimizing PPC campaigns for as long as we have, you know better than to let a few curveballs from Google get you sidetracked. Google’s platforms are always in flux, and one of the key attributes of an effective advertiser is nimbleness… the ability to adapt quickly to Google’s evolution.
It’s changes like this that once again remind us that AI needs a human touch, and it’s our team’s consistent hands-on approach that allows our clients campaigns to run so well. While we assist our clients in implementing a range of automation strategies, we also understand the importance of providing active oversight, and changing the strategy to accommodate Google’s algorithmic or analytic changes.
Any further questions about this change, or about useful AdWords metrics? We’re always here to chat. Reach out to the enCOMPASS team at your next convenience.
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