Goodbye to the middle position: Google withdraws one of its classic metrics

Google Ranking
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Google Ads wants its metrics to be increasingly clear and hopes to achieve this by removing one of its oldest metrics: the average position.

What is the average position in Google?

Many advertisers found in the average position of Google Ads (at that time Google AdWords) a clear report that allows them to make optimization decisions in their advertising campaigns.

Since then and until now, the average position has been a statistic that describes the positioning in which each ad is usually displayed. For example, if an ad or campaign has had two impressions in positions 2 and 4 respectively, its average position will be 3.

However, as the advertising in search results has evolved the average position has lost its usefulness, so it disappeared from Google Ads in September of last year.

A metric that is now worthless

Previously, the average position was useful because ads were shown in consistent locations on the search page. Understanding the average position of an ad meant knowing where the advertising would always appear on a web page.

In fact, at the beginning of AdWords, premium ads sold to large companies to CPM were shown on search results, while ads on the right side of the screen were reserved for smaller advertisers who paid according to CPC, so if a publicist had the average position of 1, it meant that it was the first ad on the right side of the SERP.

Google Ads becomes (more) intelligent: the exact match of keywords is extended to similar expressions

Over time, the Mountain View giant realized that premium ads, meaning those who paid CPM earned less than ads on the right side of the search result (ads paid by CPC). In this way, both advertising programs were merged, and advertisers competed for all the designated spaces on the page according to the Ad Rank, a new metric.

As explained by Google itself, the Ad Rank “is calculated from the amount of the bids, the quality of the ads at the time of the auctions (where the expected click-through rate, relevance, and experience are taken into account). of the corresponding ads’ landing pages), the ad ranking thresholds, the context of the user searches in which the ads should appear (for example, the location, the device, the search time, the terms of search, other advertisements and search results displayed on the page, and other attributes and signals from users), and the expected impact of extensions and other ad formats.”

Since then, only ads that reach a certain limit in relevance to the search will be displayed above the organic results. This way, Google can guarantee that users only see the most useful ads.

Position 1 is no longer absolute

For advertisers this was a great confusion, since the average position could mark location 1, but it was only certain that the ad was shown before everyone else, and it was not known with certainty where it was displayed: it could appear in the top of the page, but also on the right side, if no ad reached the promotion threshold in this position, without counting that it could be shown below the organic results.

With the arrival of new advertising formats, for example, Google Shopping, the confusion was even more significant, since even ads with lower average position could be displayed before position 1.

Google aims to provide more clarity with two new positioning metrics

But what implications will the disappearance of the middle position have? Advertisers must rethink some bid strategies that are already obsolete, update performance reports, and discover how new positioning metrics can replace the average position.

Google Ads integrated two new metrics since last November to describe what percentage of the ads show at the top of the search page. These metrics are:

  • The percentage of impression (absolute superior), which refers to the percentage of time that the ads are in the first position absolutely, above the organic search results.
  • Print percentage (upper), which describes the percentage of time when ads are above organic results.

These new metrics are intended to give better control over the position that ads occupy in a world of automated advertising, and thus be able to make the necessary decisions in their campaigns and that the ads are displayed in positions where they achieve a greater boost to business.

Top positions on the search page

It is essential to understand the two positions above the Google search page (SERP) that get the best click ratio:

New position metrics

To end all this confusion, Google has decided to launch four new metrics that offer more precise information about the place of ads on the search results page (SERP).

Two of them refer to the absolute top position, which for many was the “1” tag, and the other two throw information from the impressions of the top ads above the search results, regardless of whether they are the first, the second or the third.

Absolute Top Impression Share

This is the percentage of impressions that appear in the first position above the organic search results. It reveals how often the ad is the first result that a user sees over organic search results.

Percentage of impressions on top

This is the percentage of impressions of the ads that appear above the results of the organic search. Along with the percentage of impressions (Absolute Top), this metric lets you know where on the page your ads are displayed.

Quotation absolute top search

By dividing the impressions of the absolute top location among all the possible impressions that could have obtained that same position, one can get the probability of being the first ad seen of the SERP.

Premium search share quotation

This is obtained by comparing the impressions you received in the top location (any part above the organic search results) with the estimated number of impressions you could have obtained in that position. The share of impressions for both the top and the absolute top lets you know if your ads have any chance of appearing in these positions.

Do you want to improve the position of your ads?

Using the new two metrics related to the percentage of impressions is much easier to detect if the CTR of your ads has been affected by a change of position on the search page. Once you have got this information, you can use the printing quotas to make new bids and thus improve the position of the ads in your campaign.

Note: Google warns that if you only take into account the metrics referring to the percentage of impressions to make changes to the bids, it could be a mistake. This is because higher bids do not ensure a better position, but on the contrary, you would take part in more competitive auctions which could lead you to obtain worse results and therefore a worse location.

Therefore, forget about the average position you have used for your results for so long and begin to familiarize yourself with the new location metrics. There will be no more doubts, with the information obtained you will know where your ads appear exactly and their impact on performance.

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