Google Ads: Farewell to the Average Position Metric!

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In February ‘19, Google declared they would retire the Average Position Metric. Google Ads introduced average position in the early 2000s as one of the platform’s original performance metrics.

What does it mean to lose a metric that Google has offered for over 19 years? Let’s look at what Google’s announcement really means.

The average position metric shows a mean average of where your ad has appeared relative to other ads on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Ad position is determined by ad rank, which is calculated based on bid amount and quality score. Users have long found the average position metric to be a useful performance indicator. Many advertisers see an average position of 1 as a desirable outcome worth striving for.

 

However, the average position metric comes with flaws, prompting Google to announce its retirement in September 2019. Google has had several reasons to annex average position. Firstly, the metric doesn’t tell the whole story regarding where your ad is placed on the page and is easy to misunderstand. Many people have mistakenly considered average position to be a direct report of their ad’s position on the SERP.

Average position only reports on the relative order of your ads, not their location. Average position doesn’t differentiate between results shown at the top of the page and those displayed at the bottom below the organic search results.

 

An average position of 1.5 may look awesome at first glance, but it doesn’t tell you how often your ad appeared in the more desirable top section, as opposed to the bottom of the page.

 

Another flaw of the metric is that a mean average does not give an accurate impression of where the ad appeared on SERPs:

  • For example, a mean average of three could be calculated from many different combinations of positions.
  • This average doesn’t tell us the specific positions the ad appeared in, or how many times it appeared in the desirable top positions.
  • Without a standard deviation, mean results are easily skewed by outlying figures, giving a misleading impression of performance. The average figure also gives no insight into how your ad attained the average position.

 

Wondering what you will do without this old friend of a metric? Get prepared… Google has announced new metrics that will be much more useful than average position.

 

The new prominence metrics will reflect the actual position of your ads on the SERP, as opposed to average position relative to other ads. Google has created these new metrics to provide you with greater insight into how variables like click-through-rate and cost-per-click are affected by an ad’s position on the SERP. These metrics will aid you to bid more effectively, to optimise for prominence.

Top Impression Share shows the percentage of ad impressions shown in the top four positions on the SERP, above the organic search results.

Absolute Top Impression Share is similar, but it only shows the percentage of ad impressions shown in the coveted top position. Advertisers can now bid to target their ads to appear at the Absolute Top of Results Page, Top of Results Page, or Anywhere on Results Page. Click Share is another useful metric which shows the actual percentage of clicks that your ads received out of the total number of times people could have clicked your ads. These metrics can provide insight into your ads’ performance for given keywords compared to your competitors.

The team at Search Republic has decided that the passing of our friend the average position metric, although sad, has made way for greater metrics that will provide digital marketers with better insights to guide our ongoing optimisations.

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