October 14, 2019

Google Removes Average Position Metric: Now What?

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Google sunsetted its Average Position metric on September 30, 2019, but how impactful was it in the first place?

Average Position was, according to Google, “A statistic that describe[d] how your ad typically rank[ed] against other ads. This rank determine[d] in which order ads appear[ed] on the page.” Average positions 1-4 appeared on the first search engine results page (SERP), while ranks below 4 appeared on subsequent pages (where we know engagement is much lower).

With the auction style Google uses to display ads, your ad position can fluctuate based on numerous factors (bid price, competitors, and quality score); however, this statistic could still provide value by recording how often your ad appears above other ads within a given search result. However, the most important thing is to determine what’s profitable for you, which — depending on return on ad spend, cost per click limitations, or budget, for example — might not be to appear in the top position.

Time to Panic? Maybe Not
Though Average Position has been removed, Intouch sees the change as an opportunity to improve paid search campaign insights by analyzing results from new metrics Google has brought into play. Let’s first define them to see how this could improve paid search campaign insights.

Here are the new metrics:

  • TIR – Top Impression Rate (Top impressions / Total impressions): The percentage of your total impressions that are coming from the top of the SERP, above the organic results.
    • Four ad spots are available in this “top section”; knowing the amount of times your ads appear here could be valuable, but let’s keep going.
  • ATI – Absolute Top Impression (Absolute top impressions / Total impressions): Percentage of times your ad is in the #1 position.
    • If your ads have a high number for this statistic, it’s likely you’re also noticing that your cost per click is fairly high compared with your account average. As we know, the pharmaceutical industry is extremely competitive, and patients are consistently comparing different treatments, so a high number does not mean higher KPI production.
  • ATIS – Absolute Top Impression Share (Absolute top impressions / Eligible absolute top impressions): Of all searches for keywords related to your brand, how many times your ads could appear at the #1 position.
    • This stat is great when considering how competitors are bidding on certain keyword themes. If your ad is eligible to appear in the #1 spot for 100 searches, but your ad is showing a metric in the 5%-10% range, this indicates that the current bid strategy isn’t very competitive with respect to the total search landscape.
  • TIS – Top Impression Share (Top impressions / Eligible top impressions): How many times your ads are in the top four spots compared with the number of times your ads are able to show.
    • In more basic terms, of all searches available, how often are you in or falling out of the top four spots. Related to the previous new stat, this metric really can help with your ad’s true visibility within the search results. As stated earlier, with four “top spots,” it can be highly valuable for increasing share of voice if you can retain a higher score for this metric.

What Metric Should Be Used?
All of them, but only if you have defined your goals to align with your business objectives. They should all be used to get an accurate picture of how ads are performing or how we want them to perform. If the goal is visibility, we may use TIS to evaluate position frequency. For branded keywords, perhaps ATI. Through measurement planning and brand strategic imperatives, Intouch will help define the right metric specific to your needs and goals. Reach out to your account team to learn more!