Google Is Preparing to Sunset the Average Position Metric – What Does this Mean for Advertisers?
A couple weeks ago, Google Ads announced that it is currently preparing to sunset the Average Position metric from the platform this September.
What is Average Position?
Average Position is one of the original Search metrics available for the Google Ads platform. When your ad competes in the Google Ads auction, it is assigned an Ad Rank based on your bid and Quality Score. Your Ad Rank then determines your Ad Position in the paid Search results.
Ad Position only refers to the order of the ads on the paid search results, but not their location. Your ad may have won the top position in any given ad auction, but that doesn’t mean that it is going to show in the top of the Search results page. There’s a chance that your ad is showing below organic results.
Why is Google taking Average Position away?
Basically, Google has determined that Average Position is not a very useful metric to review auction performance anymore. Google Ads started to transition away from Average Position back in November, when they introduced a set of new metrics related to auction performance and Search results page visibility.
The new metrics are the following:
- Top Impression Rate: The percentage of your total impressions that are coming from the top section of the Search results.
Top Impression Rate = Top Impressions / Total Impressions
- Absolute Top Impression Rate: The percentage of your total impressions that are coming from the top position in the top section of the Search results.
Absolute Top Impression Rate = Absolute Top Impressions / Total Impressions
- Top Impression Share: The rate at which opportunities to appear at the top of the Search results page turn into actual impressions at the top of the Search results page.
Top Impression Share = Top Impressions / Eligible Top Impressions
- Absolute Top Impression Share: The rate at which opportunities to appear at the top position of the top section of the Search results turn into actual impressions at the top position of the top section of the Search results page.
Absolute Top Impression Share = Absolute Top Impressions / Eligible Absolute Top Impressions
According to Pallavi Naresh, Google Ads Product Manager, these new metrics give a much clearer view of our prominence on the Search results page than average position.
Google’s example for the top and absolute top positions
What do we do about it then?
The folks over at Google Ads have determined that these new metrics are more useful and insightful than the Average Position metric. Google Ads has been taking steps to shift to automation for a while now – this measure is yet another step they are taking in that direction. For the most part, automated bidding is not about being at the very top of search results, but rather about showing your ad where it has the highest chance of converting. In most cases, manual bid to position strategies are not as useful to advertisers as automated strategies are.
There is a new automated bid strategy called Target Impression Share that is used to influence page placement. With this tool and the time we have to prepare for the change, advertisers should not have any issue adapting.
Even though Average Position has been a staple metric to gain insights on performance over the years, the fact that it’s going away should not be a cause of worry for advertisers. The PPC industry is constantly changing and evolving. The trend towards automation is becoming increasingly pronounced and the loss of Average Position (mostly used in manual bidding strategies) a reflection of that change.
Does the automation trend mean that account managers will soon become a thing of the past? Absolutely not. Automation is a very useful tool for account managers, but it is far from being a replacement.
As an advertiser, there’s two things that you should do to prepare for this change:
If you are currently optimizing your account taking Average Position into consideration and find it useful, there is no reason to stop doing so. Continue doing what works for your account until the change is implemented in September.
If you haven’t done so already, familiarize yourself with automated bidding strategies, especially Target Impression Share. This will be more useful as time goes by and Google Ads continues to shift towards automation.
Change is scary, but in our rapidly evolving world of PPC, as long as we are informed and have enough time to prepare there is nothing to worry about.