Impression Share And What It Means To You

Impression Share And What It Means To You

What is Impression Share?
One question I get asked a lot by my clients is: What is the overall number of all searches made on my keywords, and how many of those searches am I appearing for? Up until recently there was no quick and easy way of answering this question; thankfully Google introduced the Impression Share metrics into the Adwords Interface.
Impression share is the percentage of impressions that you received divided by the estimated number of impressions that you were eligible to receive. In simple terms; what percentage of all searches made on your keywords did you actually appear for?
To understand the value of impression share, you can picture the online advertising landscape as a pizza. You and your competitors are trying to grab the biggest slice of that pizza. By watching your impression share metrics, you can keep an eye on the size of your slice compared to the rest of the pizza, which is being shared and eaten by your competition!
Other available impression share metrics include:

  • Lost IS (budget): The percentage of time that your ads weren’t shown due to insufficient budget.
  • Lost IS (rank): The percentage of time that your ads weren’t shown due to poor Ad Rank.
  • Exact match IS: The percentage of impressions that you received for searches that exactly matched your keyword divided by the estimated number of exact match impressions that you were eligible to receive.

Knowing these metrics can help you determine how to optimise your account, and may make you consider getting in some outside help to achieve your advertising goals.
What do the stats mean, and how can I improve them?
If your Impression Share percentage is low this shows that you are missing out on a large chunk of people that are searching for you. For example, if your Impression Share is 30%, this means that 70% of people looking for your services/products don’t even know you exist! You are missing out on lots of potential customers, and are limiting the reach your adverts have.
If your Lost IS (budget) percentage is high this shows that you are limiting the audience you are reaching by not assigning a large enough budget. This may also be an indication that you have generic keywords that are eating up the budget; match types and negative keywords along with keyword level bid management would help in most cases, but if you are already utilising these features, you may simply need to put more money in.
If your Lost IS (rank) percentage is high this shows you that you need to work on your positioning. You need to improve your CTR by adding new match types (phrase, exact, BMM), adding keyword variations, excluding irrelevant traffic and adjusting your Max CPC bids. Currently your ad isn’t appearing high enough in the results for people to be able to see it. However, if you have a good selection of match types with good Quality Scores, and your positioning is still low, it may be the case that you have to increase your bids. Increased bid prices with a budget constraint may lead to a drop off in clicks and impressions; you would need to up your bids, and increase your daily budget in order to cope with it. Positions 1-3 generally convert better than Position 4 and below as a rule.
If your Impression Share percentage is high then it may be the case that the targeting on your account is too narrow, and you need to expand your keyword list in order to cast your net wider. What’s the point of having 90% Impression Share if you have 10 keywords on Exact match, you’re geographically targeting one town, and your Ad Scheduling is set to show ads 2 hours a day? You have a great share of the impressions you are eligible to show for, but the search volume you are targeting is very low.
If your Exact Match IS percentage is low then you probably have a lot of broad match keywords that are triggering ads on a wide variety of search terms. Add your Broad match keywords in BMM, Phrase and Exact. Go through your Search Query Reports (See search terms- All option on the Keywords tab) and discover what people are typing in to see your advert. Add relevant keyword variations in Phrase and Exact match type, and exclude irrelevant terms by adding them as Negative keywords. You will probably start to see your Exact Match IS improve, along with all the other IS metrics.
Well Chris, that all sounds great! Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find the stats in my account…
This is generally the view that you will have when you sign into your account:

Make sure you have a decent date range selected (top right of the account): at least 30 days. Making sure you’re on the Campaigns tab, look for the Columns drop down menu (you can see it directly under the Ads tab). Click on Columns, then on Customise columns.

Underneath Select metrics, click on Competitive metrics; click on Add next to Impr. Share, Exact Match IS, Lost IS (Budget) and Lost IS (Rank). Click on Save.

You will then see the additional columns as shown below:

You can quickly identify in the example above that some campaigns are performing better than others; overall the whole account has a less than 10% Impression Share, and the reason for this is that they don’t have the budget to cope. Another indicator of this is the Limited by budget status on most of the campaigns; the IS metrics back this up. They also do not appear for many terms that they are exactly bidding on; expanding their keyword lists and match types would help improve things.
I would recommend keeping an eye on these metrics along with the more common KPI’s (Clicks, CTR, Conversions etc). If you have a poor CTR or a high Cost per Conversion (compared to the value of your product/service), I would suggest focusing on these metrics first; it would probably be unwise to try and get more visitors if the ones you currently have don’t engage with your site in the way you hoped they would.
A low IS percentage could show that need to optimise and refine your account further and spend your money more wisely; it could also be the indicator that you need to pour more money into the account to achieve better results. If you can reach more people that are looking for you, you can improve your chance of achieving conversions and gaining new customers (preventing your competitors from getting to them first).
Chris Davenport-Smith
GCP Qualified Client Management Executive at Broadplace Advertising

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