Google Ads will be removing average position September 30th 2019. Removing this metric will have a big impact on how analysts and teams track and optimize their performance day to day. The removal of the metric will put a bigger reliance on impression share. Here we will explain some of the pain points as they pertain to the automotive industry.

What is average position?

Average position is the position your ad display in relation to other competition in Google’s auction and search results. However, this does not necessarily mean that if you in position 1 that your ad will be at the top of the page. Therefore it is recommended to reference the search absolute top IS metric to understand how often your ad received impressions at the top of the search results page.

Google is trying to better streamline it’s metric to improve their business. For an experienced paid search expert, it will not impact greatly as an analyst with experience will be able to successfully pivot how he/she optimizes and understands their auction position. This clearly will not be the case for the average individual and communicating performance to stakeholders especially on the agency side will pose difficulties.

The pain points to plan for:

Losing average position will mean that the new metrics to evaluate as recommended by Google will be search top impression rate and search absolute top impression rate. Although search top impression rate will give you a good pulse on the percentage of impressions you register in the top of auction, this will not give the best read on the actual position. That being said it will take some time to get a “feel” for how bid and budget changes impact this percentage of impression share.

The impact to specific industries:

If there are any bidding rules and guardrails set to maintain a particular position against other competitors and business entities this change will impact those reports and possible scripts.

The automotive industry in particular relies heavily on average position because many tier 3 dealerships (independent dealers) have to abide by rules that are set at the manufacturer level (tier 1). This has always been a pain point as many dealerships and manufacturers continue to monitor and limit unnecessary competition which mitigates poor spend efficiency within Google Ads.

The potential solution:

Today we are highly concerned with lowering the overlap rate within Google’s auction insights and generally use average position to estimate “where” our ads will register impressions.

The potential solution to plan how you will adjust bids and budgets against your competition is to monitor both overlap rate and impression share to start. Once you have both metrics you can benchmark this percentage alongside absolute top of page rate. This will help better calculate and visualize the impressions your ad received in the top of the search results.

Auction insights report example

It will be very interesting to see how performance shifts as more changes to metrics mature over time. Our hope is that these changes do not negatively impact certain industries in the short term while strategies adjust and adopt the new analysis.

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