Impression Share is a useful measure – similar to display market share and reach. It is a calculation of out of every 100 impressions, on average how many types is your ad shown. This is dependent on the 2 factors that make up average position and thereby eligibility for an auction:
Average Position = Quality Score x Maximum CPC Bid
This metric can signal to an advertiser where there is more room for spend (i.e. low impression share and losing out to budget reasons) or where there is high competition/poor quality score (losing impression share to rank).
So How Do I Find Out My Impression Share?
Unfortunately, advertisers can only see overall account impression share or at individual campaign level. The option is available under Competitive Metrics as a column in Campaign View (and also on the Dimensions tab):
The competitive metrics then appear as 3 additional columns for your campaigns.
What does Impression Share Mean For My Campaigns?
Google very kindly helps you find out why you might be losing impression share – either to budget or to rank. The sum of your Impression Share and two Lost Impression Share columns should come to 100% for each campaign.
When Impression Share is lost to budget it means that your daily budget cap is restricting the number of impressions Google is giving your ads/number of times Google is entering your ads in the keyword auction. The corresponding keyword status is either that the keyword is not showing because your campaign has exhausted it’s budget for the day or that Google is limiting keyword elgibility due to campaign budget. The solution is to increase your daily cap if this is possible and within campaign KPI’s.
Losing impression share to rank is more serious. In it’s simplest form, the solution is to increase keyword bids within the campaign in question. But since average position is also a function of quality score, one of the many elements of quality score could be the issue. Therefore increasing your maximum CPC bids may not solve the problem. This could require better ad group structure, filtering out poor performing keywords, improving ad text copy or improving the landing page.
Ideally, you want to be in a situation where you are not losing impression share due to rank.
Before judging your Impression Share, check your campaign targeting settings as you many well find that you are appearing in regions or at times of day for which your product is not relevant. If you adjust your campaign targeting and recalculate Impression Share, you may find it improved and more reflective of your activity.
I Want To See Keyword Level Impression Share?
Okay – we all would like to see this in an ideal world but Google do not release this data in the UI. It is likely that they can view this internally as they do have reports that go to such detail as clicks received at each possible search results position.
One way around this is to use Local monthly searches data mined from the Google Adwords Keyword Tool alongside your own impressions data over a month to calculate impression share. However, the Keyword Tool data is not influenced by quality score and is more a general average.
Another method is to isolate the keyword in its own campaign and view the campaign impression share. This has excellent results as you can monitor the impression share lost to budget and rank and really focus on optimizing the focus keyword. Though, you cannot isolate every keyword into its own campaign as this would be unmanageable but for certain focus keywords it can be done and is a great way to get insight into keyword level impression share performance.
Is 100% Impression Share Necessary?
You may not want 100% impression share dependent on your KPI’s (e.g. highly competitive marketplace where you are a small fry advertiser or a branding campaign where you have low quality score and have come to terms with that). Realistically though, losing out on Impression Share means that you are not appearing every time the user searches for you. By not being present on every search you are losing out on potential conversions to your competitors.
There will be occasions where Impression Share stumps you – you may have non exact-matched keywords which are appearing in a high average position, potentially even position 1 but Google is including impressions for which you are not eligible due to keyword/creative relevance in the impression share calculation, e.g. on a broad match keyword, Google will not show your ad for every keyword auction it could be eligible for. Again, in this situation, the Impression Share figure may not be a good indicator for performance.