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Google’s Average Position Metric Is Going Away – Now What?

Published: September 26, 2019

Author: Tom Bodenheimer

Business Data Analyst Will Cozart contributed to this report.
Google recently announced they will be sunsetting average position on Sept. 30. With the news, and the recent introduction of new metrics, 3Q teams are adjusting the ways we analyze performance and optimize our campaigns.

Here is a quick rundown of the new Google metrics:
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.
Impr. (Absolute Top) %: The percent of your ad impressions that show in the top position.
Impr. (Top) %: The percent of your ad impressions that show anywhere above organic results.

3Q’s take on the change

Until now, we have leveraged average position, along with other metrics, to help analyze performance and optimize bids. Average position has its flaws, however, in painting a full picture of an account’s performance and SERP prominence.
The top and absolute top impression share metrics give us more clarity into where, and how often, our ads are showing, as well as available opportunity to push up or pull back bids. For instance, if a keyword’s performance is strong, but absolute top impression share is high, we might not have the ability to further increase bids efficiently. Conversely, if top impression share is low, then we would know that there is plenty of available opportunity to increase bids.
Advertisers looking to own their brand terms and enforce brand credibility, for example, will want to focus on growing Search (Absolute Top) IS. We expect to see increased CPCs and potentially lower ROI in pursuit of the increased Impression Share at the top of the SERP.
Similarly, advertisers should monitor their Search (Top) Impression Share as a measure of how much traffic they’re leaving on the table. Top-performing product segments with low Top IS have room to scale bids and volume while keeping ROI in line with goal, for example.
3Q teams have been taking steps to preempt this change from a process standpoint. These steps include, but are not limited to:

  • Updating dynamic reports to incorporate the new metrics
  • Updating custom columns and/or bidding rules within Google Ads or third-party bidding systems
  • Reviewing scripts using the Average Position metric to monitor or make campaign changes
  • Reviewing historical performance, and the correlation between Avg. Pos. and the new Impression Share metrics; this establishes an account baseline for future performance review and optimization

We will provide more insights when the new metrics replace Average Position and more takeaways become available.

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