Understand the impression rate on Google Ads

Part d

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Since the end of September 2019, Google Ads no longer provides us with visibility indicators on its keywords and campaign with the “average position” statistic, which until then was essential to analyze the visibility of its campaigns on the Google search network. This indicator is now replaced by the “Share of impressions” on the research network

If this modification caused at first glance the incomprehension of experts and advertisers on Google Ads, it appears with a little more hindsight as a bad for a good in the analysis of the visibility and the performance of its campaigns: Because l he study of the share of impressions provides essential explanatory keys on the state of its visibility and its deficiencies.

This impression share indicator is also today a true global strategic KPI, making it possible both to measure the visibility of its search campaigns, but also to reflect the quality of management and targeting of its campaigns on the Google Ads search network.

What is the impression rate?

The “Search network impression rate” indicator corresponds to the number of impressions recorded by your ads on the Search Network, divided by the estimated number of impressions they were likely to receive within the limit of Targeting “conditions” defined (keywords, devices, hours, geographic areas, etc.)

Impression rate: Calculation formula

The impression rate is calculated as follows:

Impressions made / Impressions potential

= Printing rate (in%)

Illustration of impression rate

If we take the example of any advertiser positioning itself in a specific market or product segment:

There is a multitude of searches carried out by Internet users in search engines and particularly on Google (see illustration below in blue circle)

Among these searches, all are not necessarily exploitable, nor qualified within the framework of the setting up of a campaign with commercial vocation on Google Ads. The implementation of a targeting strategy by your Google Ads agency will make it possible to try to cover a targeted search potential (orange circle in the illustration)

Finally, only part of this potential will be covered by your ads (see illustration below in green circle). This is what defines the “Print share”.

The part of the search potential not covered by your ads (= orange area – green area) is called the “lost print share” This is roughly the slice of the pie that you target with your campaigns but that you do not manage to touch (for reasons of budget and ranking of your ads but we will come back to it… ..)

Why is analysis & impression rate monitoring important?

Analysis and monitoring of impression shares has become essential for various reasons:

  • Analyze visibility campaigns, since the average position statistics are no longer available since September 30, 2019)
  • Determine a relevant budget (in test & learn mode) because part of your delivery may be limited by a budget that may be difficult to set precisely before launching your campaigns
  • Identify changes in potential search and seasonality, your impression shares being impacted by search volumes, tracking impression shares allows you to detect variations in demand in your market.
  • Analyze the quality of campaign targeting: very low impression shares often being the symptom that we are targeting “everything and nothing” and therefore that we are probably following an ineffective strategy
  • Measuring the pressure on your market and its competitors, each advertiser having the desire to ensure a maximum presence, in any case on its strategic keywords. It makes sense to focus your budget and visibility on the most qualified target possible.

The impression share has therefore become an essential global KPI which almost alone determines the quality of the management of Google Ads campaigns on the search network.

To improve the performance of your campaigns, it is therefore essential to identify the origins of the loss of impression share and to understand how to correct these factors.

Why do we lose potential impressions?

There are 2 reasons why your ads are not showing within the limit of your targeting conditions and cannot cover 100% of the targeted search potential:

  • Insufficient budget to ensure dissemination throughout the target period: we then speak of share of budget lost impressions
  • An insufficient level of quality and / or auction to ensure a position on page 1 in the pages of Google search results: We are talking about shares of impressions lost ranking.

The 100% stacked histogram chart below illustrates:

  • The total potential (100%) is the height of the graph
  • The potential coverage achieved therefore the printing portion (in green)
  • The% of potential lost for reasons of insufficient classification (in yellow)
  • The% of potential lost due to insufficient budget (in red)

Google ads impression rate dashboard

Source: Dashboard 1time Google Ads impression share customer tracking position

Any advertiser has or should have the will to maximize his impression shares because they are the sign of a good mastery of his targeting and his budgetary investment. It is therefore important to identify the levers and actions that make it possible to improve these indicators (increase the share of impressions and reduce the share of lost impressions).

How to improve your printing shares?

There are different levers to improve performance and cover the maximum amount of qualified searches in Google Ads:

Reduce the share of budget lost impressions:

  • If the investment potential is not exploited to the maximum and it is considered qualitative: in this case increase the budget (if possible)
  • If the budget is limited: deactivate less performing campaigns / ad groups / keywords to mechanically improve the overall performance of the account and optimize the use of the budget
  • Also in the same vein: limit targeting (time, area, demographic, device, audience) on the more performing segments.

Reduce the share of lost impressions ranking

  • If the bidding level is insufficient, increase it to improve its visibility.
  • If the quality level does not make it possible to ensure a sufficient ranking of the ad (in addition to the auction) to ensure its distribution, in this case, work on its targeting and the quality (note of the quality score) that is Would make up for 70% of the CTR score, 15% of the ad copy, and 15% of the landing page.
  • Improving the overall quality of a campaign and reducing the share of lost impressions ranking also involves actions to exclude low-quality keywords / variants (informative or out-of-context searches, for example, which may reveal your advertisement).

In summary, with the disappearance of the average position indicator, the impression share has become the statistic to watch in order to analyze the evolution of the visibility of its campaigns on the Google Ads search network. Much more than that, this ratio is an essential monitoring KPI for managing campaigns and measuring their performance as it reflects many points: Management of budgetary investment, good management of auctions and the quality of targeting campaigns.

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