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Average Position is not meant to be a description of where your ad appears on the search engine results page (SERP), for example Position 1 doesn’t always mean that you appear right at the top of the results page above Organic. In an effort to provide more clarity, Google Ads has introduced 4 new search ads position metrics.

What’s new?

Google has introduced the following metrics to help provide advertisers with better clarity on the situation:

  • Impr. (Absolute Top) % – is the percent of your ad impressions that are shown as the very first ad above the organic search results.
  • Impr. (Top) % – is the percent of your ad impressions that are shown anywhere above the organic search results.
  • Search (Absolute Top) Impression Share – is the impressions you’ve received in the absolute top location (the very first ad above the organic search results) divided by the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive in the top location.
  • Search (Top) Impression Share – is the impressions you’ve received in the top location (anywhere above the organic search results) compared to the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive in the top location.
Credit: Google Ads Help, 2018

What does this mean for you?

Understand the difference between Absolute Top and Top

Absolute Top refers to when your ad shows right at the top of the page in P1 and above the Organic results. 

Top refers to around Positions 2 to 3/4 where your ads appeared above the organic results. 

Impr % (Absolute Top & Top) are indicators of specific location

You should use these metrics to help identify when your impressions from your ads show above the organic results.

Search (Absolute Top & Top) Impression Share

This should be used to help you understand your share of eligible top impressions. This is the best metric to use to help understand the opportunity available to show in more prominent positions. 

Why has Google introduced these metrics?

This helps advertisers that want to bid on specific locations on a page, but it also makes Google more money

Google have said that if you are looking to optimise your campaigns towards a specific location on the page then maybe it’s better to use Impression % Absolute Top & Top. If you are using Average Positions to bid to a page location, then it’s recommended to use Search Absolute Top & Top Impression Share.

Google say that they are working on ways to incorporate these metrics into automated bidding solutions. 

This is great and all, but for me this feels as though this could increase competition in the auction for advertisers which means that CPCs could further inflate. This means that Google makes more money and the auction becomes more expensive for Advertisers. 

Does this point to the death of Average Position as a metric?

I think if this change becomes successful for Google’s Ad Revenue, there is every chance that they could remove Ad Position as a metric. For now, I agree that having both Average Position and these new metrics helps advertisers to make better decisions. But I can see a future where we don’t have Average Position and we optimise towards a new metric where we are only given Absolute Top, Top, Bottom. This lack of transparency helps Google increase their ad revenue as there are less locations to optimise towards. 

Average Position is becoming less important and it’s more about using Signals to understand user Context and Intent. Using automated bidding strategies and having an audience, device and location strategy is more important than ever to help understand this. Removing Average Position for advertisers could help further force them to adopt such strategies, giving more control to Google over how your campaign budget is spent. For me, I think this is a good thing for users but makes the job of advertisers more difficult if you aren’t adopting the latest best practice. 

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Dan Roberts

Founder & Author at PPC hubbub
Dan has worked across different agencies in the UK for over 6 years. He was awarded Rising Star at The Drum Search Awards in 2015. Google voted him as one of the Top 20 Search Specialists in the UK. He founded PPC hubbub after becoming frustrated with the lack of actionable insight from blogs.

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