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PHOTO: Binary Koala

The major advertising platforms are adjusting metrics to increase transparency of their digital ad systems. Google's latest changes in metrics serves as a reminder to marketers that what previously may have been considered good practice is quite possibly out of date. 

Google Introduces New Ad Metrics

Marketers running ad campaigns have long wanted to know how frequently an ad appears at the top of a search query result. In the past, marketers mistakenly turned to average position as the way to diagnose that frequency. Average position reflects the order in which a given ad appears versus other ads in the ad auction, not the search results page. As a result, an ad position of "1" means your ad shows ahead of all other ads, but it doesn't mean the ad appears at the top of the page.

Google has created specific search ad position metrics to correct this misperception. Marketers can now gain a nuanced view of ad appearance within a given search results. Those four metrics are:

  • Impression (Absolute Top) Percentage: The percent of impressions for a given ad that appear as the very first ad above the organic search results.
  • Impression (Top) Percentage: The percent of impressions for a given ad that are shown anywhere above the organic search results.
  • Search (Absolute Top) Impression Share: 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: 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.

The Absolute Top and Top labels references positions towards the top of the page as shown below.

google absolute top

The Impression (Absolute Top) percentage and Impression (Top) percentage metrics are measured as the number of impressions in the Absolute Top and Top positions, respectively, divided by the total number of ad impressions. Meanwhile the Search (Absolute Top) IS and Search (Top) IS reflect the volume of bid activity on a page location, again expressed as impressions.

Related Article: Google Rebrands AdWords and DoubleClick to Google Ads

Clearer Insights Provide Room to Refine Ads

These metrics provide valuable direction for planning subsequent campaigns, advanced tactics or advanced reporting such as being imported into Google Data Studio.  Imagine comparing campaigns with impression positions as a factor, and you can imagine a better exposure refinement for your campaigns.

The four new metrics will appear in the Action Level report within the Google Ad Manager. Google states on its website that metrics will be rolled out over the next several weeks, appearing within the campaign, ad group, and keyword level reports.

Related Article: Google Says Goodbye to Right-Side Ads

Out With the Old Metrics, In With the New

Appearing near the top of a search query page is as vital today as it was in the early days of search. Most online search is still conducted in Google despite new consumer trends such as Amazon’s rising role as a product search platform. But some analytic parameters for search have become passé, as consumers are conducting search in mobile devices and thus discovering an ad with contexts different from those that may have applied in search's early days.