Average position podium

Back in February, Google announced that it was going to be ‘sunsetting’ its average position PPC metric later this year and advised advertisers to start getting ready for the change. Now that the dust has settled a bit, we’re going to look at why the search giant has decided to make this move, as well as what it will mean for PPC management teams and – most importantly – their clients.

Why is average position disappearing?

Anyone who has spent years trying to maximise their clients’ visibility on Google – whether via PPC campaigns, display ads, an SEO strategy or a combination of all three – will know all too well that the world’s biggest search engine never rests on its laurels for long!

Most PPC departments have long used average position as a key indicator of how their ads are doing compared to those of competitors, but Google believes what’s replacing it will make reporting and bidding on SERP positions much clearer and more straightforward. Here is a summary of the four new ad position metrics you need to be aware of (all of which are already available), and what they mean:

Impression Share (Absolute Top) % – Tells you how often your ad appears as the very first result on the page (i.e. also above all organic results).

– Impression Share (Top) % – Tells you how often your ad appears as the first PPC result on the page (i.e. it may still appear below some organic results).

– Search (Absolute Top) Impression Share % – Tells you how often your ad was eligible to appear as the very first result on the page (but may not have appeared due to lack of budget or poor Ad Rank).

– Search (Top) Impression Share % – Tells you how often your ad was eligible to appear as the first PPC result on the page (but may not have appeared due to lack of budget or poor Ad Rank).

I run PPC campaigns – should I be worried?

In a word – no! Firstly, average position hasn’t gone yet. The metric will still be available until September, giving marketers plenty of time to work out how to update their reporting and bidding tactics to reflect the change.

Secondly, unless you’re totally averse to change (and, if you are, you might be in the wrong job!), there’s no reason why this development should come as bad news. The new position metrics will give you a more accurate picture of where your ads are appearing on the page, rather than simply whether they are showing higher or lower than your competitors’ and, in terms of reporting, this extra info could be very useful if you’re running a campaign where ensuring maximum visibility is crucial.

There’s always a method to Google’s (apparent) madness and, as well as the points mentioned above, another positive is how neatly these metrics tie in with some new PPC bidding strategies that have been made available recently. For the first time, marketers are now able to target specific impression share percentages for their ads, and the four new position metrics allow for a granular analysis of whether these aims are being met.

What are the consequences likely to be?

Whenever Google rolls out something big – whether it’s a change to the PPC interface or a ranking algorithm that can impact SEO – the digital marketing world tends to go into meltdown mode. The key to success in this ever-changing landscape, however, is simply to roll with the punches! Whilst dropping average position is significant, it shouldn’t take any advertisers worth their salt long to adjust to the new way of reporting.

In practical terms, the biggest change to PPC could be a modest rise in overall CPCs and CPAs. The reason this might happen is that marketers can now bid to appear at the ‘absolute top’ of the Google listings (the only other option is bidding to appear anywhere on the page). For some large businesses, securing prominence at the top of the SERPs is seen as a must so there could be increased competition across industries as multiple PPC ads vie for the same top spot. The nature of this issue, though, means that any rise in costs should only really affect campaigns where the budget is seemingly limitless anyway – a nice problem to have, but not one that applies to most companies!

And, in case you were wondering about Bing, the answer is probably yes – the second-biggest search engine is likely to follow suit and get rid of average position on their platform soon too. A couple of small changes to the Bing interface that have been made recently already suggest this is what they’re preparing to do, so don’t expect it to be long before any trace of average position is confined to the past.

Talk to the experts

Here at Bluesoup, we like to think we’re always ready to take whatever Google can throw at us in our stride. So, if you’re currently looking after your own PPC but struggling to keep up with all the latest developments, why not leave all the hard stuff to us? We know you’ll be impressed! Click here to contact the team today.