Screenshot of Google Ads dashboard.
PHOTO: PixieMe

The end of the first fiscal quarter is always a good time to look at metrics, especially ad campaign metrics that have been running during the first quarter. The end of the quarter marks 90 days of data, enough to detect a trend. If you have been running such campaigns, you need one metric that can highlight which campaigns hold the most potential for further growth.

One metric that is helpful to determine how to best adjust your budget is impression share. Monitoring impression share enhances your ad campaign budget decisions by letting you know which campaigns hold potential for increased reach.

What Is Impression Share?

Impression share is an indicator metric for comparing ad performance against the performance of others' ads. It indicates if ads might reach more people with an increased bid.  

Impression share is calculated by dividing the number of impressions your ad received by the total number of impressions your ad was eligible to receive.

To see your impression share metric, you look at your ad platform — the ad manager for each platform provides the metric. When you sign into your Google Ads account, for example, you would reach your impression share data through a few menu clicks. Impression share data is available at the campaign, ad group and keyword levels, so you need to select Campaigns, Ad groups, or Product groups (for Shopping campaigns), or Keywords in the page menu to filter the data at each ad level campaign.

To view the data, you have to add a column to your statistics table in your Google Ad account. To do this, you select the columns icon in the menu, then click "Modify columns." Next you click "Competitive metrics," and then add impression share columns by checking the boxes next to column names. You confirm your selection by selecting "Apply." The Impression share data will now appear in the statistics table.

atis data

Related Article: Google Introduces Conversion Goals for Google Ads

Absolute Top Impression Share (ATIS)

There is also a more specific variation of impression share called Absolute Top Impression Share (ATIS). ATIS measures the estimated percentage of times an ad appears in the first position of all results, out of the estimated number of first position impressions available. So, it is an impression metric that focuses on the absolute top impressions divided by the total eligible top impressions.

Because only one “absolute top impression” is possible in an ad auction, ATIS is an important indicator of how competitive your campaign is for exposure.

Google Ads and Microsoft advertising use the ATIS metric in slightly different ways. Google uses it with Shopping ad campaigns. Microsoft includes the metric as part of its share of voice (SOV) report, an analysis to show the percentage of ad impressions and clicks you might be losing.

Use Impression Share to Improve Your Ad Budget

An impression share serves your marketing strategy as a guidance metric for choosing a campaign budget adjustment. A high percentage share implies a campaign is reaching as efficiently as it can with a given bid and budget.

A good guestimate benchmark for campaigns with non-branded keywords is about 80%, while campaigns that contains branded keywords should be higher. If you note a low percentage, you must assume your ad campaign has less prominent position appearance in search query results. Consider an impression share at 60% or lower as the threshold for deciding to adjust your bid or budget.

When considering ways to improve your impression share, look at how you can use keywords in ad campaign auctions where opportunities are possible. Using keywords in a very competitive auction means your campaign has fewer opportunities to bid for a prominent position or even sustain a competitive position. Thus, you want to consider adjustments that will redirect your bidding at better quality opportunities.

For example, decreasing the regional target of your campaign reduces the number of impressions available, but it also produces more targeted results since the campaign appears in a viable yet less crowded auction field of ads. This makes it more likely to win ad impressions more frequently among queries yet draw potential customers.

Because so many factors influence impression share, you should look at your campaign costs and click metrics to weigh the value of that reach share achieved.  Search Engine Land offered a terrific example in its post on ad positions and click through rate (CTR). Marketers should examine impression share against factors like conversion rate, bids, targeting, quality score and CTR before considering a budget increase.

Evaluating impression share can help you direct your budget and resources towards your best digital ads opportunities. The metric makes ad optimization plans more realistic and budget saving more real.