How to Analyze Google Ads Data After the Death of Average Position Ranking

How to Analyze Google Ads Data After the Death of Average Position Ranking

The Google Ads metric for gauging an ad’s average position was eliminated in September 2019. Average Position was often used to gauge where you ranked for a specific keyword against competitors in the auction. For example, with an average position of 3.1 for a well-performing keyword, it’s simple to judge that there exists an opportunity to increase traffic by improving the keyword’s Ad Rank.

Why Remove Average Position?

Here’s what Google stated about the change: “Average position (Avg. Pos.) will be removed in September 2019. The percentages of top and absolute top impressions provide a clearer view of where your ads appear on search pages. You can use these new metrics to optimize your ad position.”

Google has continued to shift away from the old school manual cost per click bidding to automated bidding strategies. With Google’s machine learning capability, paired with the knowledge of user behavior, Google claims to be able to be more efficient than humans running manual bids. That makes sense. 

Additionally, the machine learning focuses on an individual’s propensity to buy rather than humans manually optimizing based on keywords.

Automated campaigns like Target CPA and Target ROAS negate the validity of average position and even cost-per-click. These machine learning models are built to hit a self-determined target. For example, set a $50 cost per conversion for a certain campaign or ad group if that is profitable for you and Google will attempt to maximize the amount of conversions within that threshold. Average position is irrelevant in this scenario and in the new world of automation.

How to Measure Opportunity Now

This shift to automation creates the need to re-think how the data is analyzed, including the metrics necessary to properly evaluate the data. While Average Position has been a great secondary metric for evaluating opportunity and performance, Google has decided to replace it with the following new metrics.

  1. Search Absolute Top Impression Share – “Search absolute top impression share” is the percentage of your Search ad impressions that are shown in the most prominent Search position. Absolute top impression share = absolute top impressions / total eligible top impressions
  2. Search Top Impression Share – Search top impression share (IS) is the impressions you’ve received in the top location on the search result page divided by the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive in the top location. Use this metric to bid on the top page location. The top location is anywhere ads appear above the organic search results. Eligibility is based on your current ads’ targeting settings, approval statuses, bids, and quality.
  3. Search Exact Match Impression Share – “Search exact match impression share (IS)” is the exact match impressions you’ve received divided by the estimated number of exact match impressions you were eligible to receive on the Search Network. Exact match impressions are those that matched your keywords exactly, or were close variants of your keyword.
  4. Search Lost Absolute Top Impression Share (rank) – Search lost absolute top impression share (rank) estimates how often your ad was not the very first ad above the organic search results due to poor Ad Rank. Ad Rank determines your ad position relative to other ads and whether your ad is able to show at all. It is calculated using your bid, ad and website quality, context of the search, Ad Rank thresholds, and the expected impact of extensions and other ad formats.
  5. Search Lost Top Impression Share (rank) – Search lost top impression share (rank) estimates how often your ad didn’t show anywhere above the organic search results due to poor Ad Rank. Ad rank determines your ad position relative to other ads and whether your ad is able to show at all. It’s calculated using your bid, ad and website quality, context of the search, Ad Rank thresholds, and the expected impact of extensions and other ad formats.
  6. Search Lost Impression Share (rank) – “Search lost impression share (rank)” estimates how often your ad didn’t show on the Search Network due to poor Ad Rank. Ad Rank determines your ad position and whether your ad is able to show at all. It’s calculated using your bid, ad and website quality, context of the search, Ad Rank Thresholds, and the expected impact of extensions and other ad formats. Impression share data is updated daily.

Got all that?

Let’s go through an example.

Taking a look at this data, the top keyword (which is purposefully not shown), in row two, has 847 clicks but less than 10 % of the absolute top impression share. Along with a top impression share of ~71%, this signifies that there is definitely substantial room to increase traffic. With a high cost per conversion though, you may not want to increase Ad Rank on that keyword. 

For the second keyword, in row three, it has 690 clicks and almost a 96% absolute top impression share. While the cost per conversion is great at ~$30, there isn’t much room to increase traffic.

So Why the Skepticism of Automation?

Digital advertising is necessary in most eCommerce strategies. Commercial queries can drive valuable traffic to your business, but the efficiency of ad spend is still  a major player when it comes to profitability. 

Among the rules that Google has changed recently is loosening the definition of match types so that “Exact Match” doesn’t actually mean “exact” anymore. Google allows close variations of keywords to show and there’s no true “exact” keywords you’re able to target. This allows Google to increase ad revenue. 

When creating a new campaign, merchants find it difficult not to select a non-automated bidding strategy and are forced to click a “not recommended” link to get to a manual strategy. They also have an army of account reps helping to steer account owners to automation. 

Google forces Shopping Links to open in new tabs to encourage multiple clicks on each search results page. This allows Google to increase ad revenue. 

It’s well-documented that a large percentage of Google’s revenue is derived from advertising dollars, and they’re also not doing poorly in that area according to a Statista report.

The changes that have been made, along with experience with automation will certainly give merchants pause, wondering if Google has their best interest at heart.

Simply put, do you feel comfortable handing the wheel over to Google?

Automation Isn’t as Easy as it Sounds

Automated bidding strategies are not that simple. Selecting the correct bidding strategy takes some planning and it’s imperative to also have an understanding the weaknesses of the strategy. Will the automation react fast enough to capture sale periods – especially those like Black Friday or Cyber Monday? 

Automated bidding strategies do alleviate some of the manual work when setup properly, however, the machine learning technology is only as good as the data it’s fed.

Let Us Help

We offer free Digital Advertising audits!

We’re passionate about digital advertising and would love the opportunity to help your team dominate Q4! Our years of experience in Google/Bing, search ads, shopping ads, and display will provide a competitive advantage. 

Contact Us

 

Top 10 Digital Advertising Tips to Maximize Q4 Revenue

Top 10 Digital Advertising Tips to Maximize Q4 Revenue

Digital advertising during the 4th quarter can provide some of the most rewarding returns of the whole year, especially for eCommerce companies. With rising conversion rates and increased revenue opportunity, the competition within the digital advertising space also heats up. 

The main portion of the sale season including Black Friday through Cyber Week has become one long sale for many companies. Recent trends have shown that more people are enjoying Thanksgiving again with a decline in Black Friday brick-n-mortar stores, however, they’re more-likely shopping from the couch on a phone. 

Each of the renowned shopping days increased YoY in 2018, with Cyber Monday becoming the biggest revenue eCommerce day in history. Amazon even mentioned, without providing data, that Cyber Monday beat out their Prime Day.

The stakes are rising annually and preparing to earn traffic to your website is just as valuable as converting the visitors.

Winning the 4th quarter takes a complete team effort. Any small competitive advantage over the competition is enhanced during this time of the year. We’ve compiled a list of our Top 10 digital advertising tips for maximizing your revenue in Q4. Let’s get to it!

#1 Synced Holiday-Specific Ad Copy

There are plenty of clicks to be earned simply by having more-relevant ad copy than your competition. At minimum, the Headline 2 and the Description 1 & 2 within Google Ads should echo the messaging of the site. 

For example, during a “Black Friday Starts Now” sale period, your ads should include that in the copy! Matching the messaging that will be placed in site-wide messages and banners will create a seamless transition for searchers.

This is an excellent strategy especially if the advertising budget is smaller than the competition. Focusing on click-through rate (CTR) with hyper-focused and timely ad copy will earn your company more traffic and revenue.

#2 Labels & Automation

Complementing the #1 tip, a labeling system to automate many of the ad copy changes will save the team time. For example, if your marketing team lands on specific days to run messaging for Black Friday Starts Now, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Cyber Week – all of these ads can be built ahead of time and labeled. 

Using labels for each set of ads will make ad copy changes much easier to automate. Rather than ad copy changes at midnight from Black Friday copy to Cyber Monday, use a Google Ads script to do the work for you!

#3 Understand Bid Strategy Weaknesses & Overcome

If your account is taking advantage of some of the machine-learning automation bid strategies, you’ll want to understand how they can be a disadvantage in Q4. Will the AI learn quickly enough to adjust bids with your competition? Processes need to be in-place to adjust campaign bid strategies so that competitors don’t earn your revenue.

#4 Establish Must-Win Campaigns

Some segments of the business contribute more to the bottom line than others. Ensure the digital marketing team understands which categories or products or search terms need to be monitored heavily.

In large accounts, many changes can be made in bulk, however specific attention needs to be spent in a must-win scenario. Account for this extra time when planning out the tasks needed to win Q4.

#5 Evaluate & Increase Bid Mods

Not all traffic is the same and your conversion rates will vary depending on where/who the traffic is coming from. Bid modifiers allow you to pick out the most important visitors and bid on them differently. Conversely, you can bid down on those who have shown a lower propensity to purchase.

Bid modifiers include device, gender, location, time of day, and more. Additionally, you can select specific audiences to place bid modifications on like shoppers who abandon cart, visitors within the last 3 days, or visitors that have spent double the average time on site.

Your competition is preparing for Q4 too, so make sure your most valuable audiences bid mods are increased. Paying attention to the trends can also play a key role here. You can leave a large amount of revenue on the table if your digital team and website aren’t ready for mobile.

Online shopping on mobile devices for the entire five-day period(Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday) showed a significant increase over last year, representing 54.3 percent of site visits (46.6 percent smartphones, 7.7 percent tablets), up 18.9 percent over 2017. Mobile devices collectively accounted for 35.9 percent of revenue, an 18.3 percent year-over-year increase.

Marcia Kaplan

Practical Ecommerce

#6 Countdown Ads

Running countdown ads are a great way to dynamically create urgency for searchers and beat out competitors for clicks. Within Google Ads (and Bing), you’re able to set an end date for ads which fits perfectly into our prior example of the Q4 holiday periods.

The Headline 1 could say “Black Friday Shoe Sale Ends in 8 Hours” or something similar. The countdown ad will dynamically change the ad text from weeks to days to hours to minutes. Imagine someone search for your category at 11:50PM and your ad reads “Black Friday Shoes Sale Ends in 10 Minutes.” That sets an urgent mindset before the user even visits your site, likely increasing conversion rate.

#7 Understand the Enemy

Your competitors have a huge impact on your Q4 earnings, especially when conversion rates are peaking. Monitor your competitor’s strategy and set-up a plan for how your team will react in an emergency scenario.

If your team doesn’t have the advantage of years of experience, you can begin by using existing data. Using last year’s data, start with the Auction Insights tool within Google Ads. At varying levels of depth (search terms, ad groups, campaigns) within the account, you’ll be able to understand how competitors bid up or down during specific times –  assuming your account is structured properly to evaluate and retrieve this good data.

Once you have good notes on the competition, it’s a good idea to divvy out responsibilities to team members for campaigns or search terms to monitor during key days like Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

 

#8 Holiday Extensions

Google and Bing typically offer promotion extensions or holiday-specific extensions.

Extensions are additional information that you’re able to add to a search ad. They’re excellent for communicating specific information that improves your click-through rate and take up more search real estate. Coupon codes can be used as well as specific percentages off of a product or dollar amount.

 

 

#9 Start Late Q3 or Sooner

Account sizes vary greatly, so you’ll want to timeline the tasks out and give yourself ample time to complete the work before Q4 begins. It’s rare that marketing plans aren’t changed on the fly in small-to-medium companies and with the bulk of the work done, it will be easier to adapt to changes.

 

#10 Monitor Progress

The digital marketing team should always be monitoring the business’ progress and how the competition is responding. Eat healthy and take breaks throughout the day on what will likely be late nights for the team.

 

More tactics and tricks can be used depending on the industry data and how your competition executes their plan. Every account is unique! We’ll help tailor a plan to maximize your desires for Q4. Contact us for a free digital advertising audit today!

 

Let Us Help!

We’re passionate about digital advertising and would love the opportunity to help your team dominate Q4! Our years of experience in Google/Bing, search ads, shopping ads, and display will provide a competitive advantage. We also offer free Digital Advertising audits.