How Auction Insights Will Change Your AdWords Strategy

Transparency is widely considered a good thing. And Google is expecting a new layer of it - added to the AdWords auction process - will help marketers and advertisers make better informed optimization decisions.

Because a key component of developing any search ad strategy is understanding what others are doing, the search giant recently launched the Auction insights report.

The report provides data at the keyword-level and includes five different statistics: impression share, average position, overlap rate, position above rate and top of page percent.

This allows marketers to use increased intelligence to optimize campaigns for maximum performance by:

1. Helping better understand competitor efforts.
2. Eliminating guessing and thus avoiding overpaying for keywords.
3. Providing insights that helps reduce underbidding errors.
4. Adding extra information for negative matching.
5. Enhancing branded campaigns.

A few key AdWords Auction takeaways to consider:

Average position. This efficient piece of data now gauges how high your ads are ranking compared to others competing in the same auctions. It provides the average rank of ads in the auctions and determines the order of the ads on the search results page (SERP). Why is this important? It allows you to measure performance against competitors and adjust accordingly.

Overlap rate. The overlap is an indicator showing how often you receive impressions at the same time as others for this keyword. If you monitor this overlap, you can figure out efficient ways to circumvent and avoid the siphoning off of impressions.

Impression share. A little different than overlap rate, but similar in concept. This significant metric measures the percentage of impressions you received divided by the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive. This "eligibility" is based on your ads targeting settings, approval statuses, bids and Quality Scores. You can also find out the impression share of competitors.

Position above rate. Shows how often someone else's ad was delivered in a higher position than yours in auctions in which you both received impressions.

Top of page rate. This statistic tells you how often your ad (or the ad of another advertiser, depending on which row you are viewing) was shown at the top of the page, above the organic search results.

Obviously this type of information is important. Understanding it and using the data properly will make strategic decisions about bids, budgets and keyword choices more straightforward, as well as allow you to adjust your efforts by analyzing successes and missed opportunities.

Insight is designed to generate one report for one keyword at a time, and data is only available for keywords that meet a minimum threshold of activity for the time period specified. Initially, Google added this icon (auction insights icon) to the left of a keyword statistics table on the Keyword tab to signify the Auction insights report is available.

However, they've since removed it but are expected to add a new indicator function soon.

sorting keywords

To determine the keywords for which to run the report, Google recommends sorting keywords by impressions. If the report is not available for the selected keyword and time frame, no data will be shown on the report page.

Use insights with impression share columns 

Google also provides impression share columns within campaign and ad group reports designed to show the percentage of impressions received, compared to the estimated number of impressions for which they were eligible.

impression share columns

While alone the report can provide valuable insight into missed opportunities in aggregate, it is now much more powerful when used in conjunction with Auction insights to help answer previously vexing questions about  who competes in the same auctions and how performance data can be made available at a more detailed level.

How to find Auction insights report for a keyword

1. Go to Keywords tab.
2. Click the box next to the keyword you are interested in.
3. Click the “Keyword details” box at the top of the statistics table (see below).
4. In the dropdown menu, click “Selected (single keyword)” under the “Auction insights” header.

auction insights keyword

5. You are then taken to the Auction insights report for your selected keyword (below).

auction insights report


While the initial launch is for single keywords only, it is likely Google will expand that in the future. The reporting feature is available to all advertisers, and data is only available dating back to May 1.

What do you think? Let us know if this layer of transparency will help or hinder your AdWords efforts. If you have any questions, please comment below or find me on Twitter @tngray99

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