How the new search ad position metrics can help diagnose a drop in CTR.

In the old days - before 6 November 2018 - Google offered one metric showing where your search ads appeared - average position. Average position told you where the ad showed in relation to the competition.

You could use average position to infer where on the search results page your ad appeared when all ads showed at the top of the page. Knowing where your ad appeared is important because there is a strong correlation between position and clickthrough rate. Ads at the top get clicked more often.

But when Google started showing ads at the bottom of the page the average position metric didn't tell you as much.

You might be scratching your head wondering why your clickthrough rate plummeted even though your average position was 1.2. That position 1.2 might have been below the organic results, way down at the dusty bottom of the page where nobody ever goes.

I’m really pleased that Google introduced four new position metrics to account for this. They are:

  • 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.”

Now if your ad is shown often at Absolute Top and the clickthrough rate is down, it’s a good chance that there is a real problem not just a consequence of the ad being buried.

Official announcement here.

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