Recently Google announced to agencies that the average position metric we normally use to see where ads are positioned in the ad auction is going away. Google is replacing average position with four new position metrics and said they are “sunsetting” the average position metric.
What did average position really mean?
According to Google average position does not give you enough information to know where you actually appear on the search page. Average position tells us where your ad is located relative to other ads. However, if there are no ads displayed at the top of the search results you are not in position one on the search results page because organic search results are actually above you. Google’s new metrics will allow us to have more insight into where you actually appear on the search results page.
In order to introduce the new metrics Google has defined top and absolute top as seen in the picture below:
Here are Google’s definitions of the new position metrics:
- Impr. (Absolute Top) % – the percent of your ad impressions that are shown as the very first ad above the organic search results.
- Impr. (Top) % – the percent of your ad impressions that are shown anywhere above the organic search results.
- Search (Absolute Top) 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) 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.
These metrics will give us better insight into where you appear on the search results pages for position number one. If you have a keyword that is converting at a higher rate you can see how bidding for more impression on an Absolute Top position could be useful. The downside is that this information could also raise the cost per click for top positions if other people in the auction are also bidding for the absolute top. We also will not know the average position of ads in the ad auction unless the ad is in position number one.
Sean periodically teaches as an adjunct professor on the topic of search engines and search marketing at MSU and is a member of their computer science advisory board. He completed coursework for his PhD in machine learning at MSU. He was the founder and publisher of SEMJ.org. Sean holds four engineering patents, has a B.S. in physics from the University of Washington in Seattle, and a master’s in electrical engineering from Washington State University. As president and director at metric ppc, Inc. he focuses on search marketing, internet research, and consults for large companies.