Zach Mandelblatt
By Zach Mandelblatt | SEM | February 3, 2014

Impression Share Review: The Best Report You’re Not Using

Back in December, Ben Childs (President of the company) proclaimed that the Dimensions Tab is the best AdWords report the average advertiser isn’t utilizing. With all due respect to Ben, I would have to disagree! While the Dimensions Tab is extremely valuable, the value gained from Dimensions Tab analysis pales in comparison to the value you can get from a quick Impression Share Review.


Today, I challenge the (PPC assumptions of the) King!

Impression Share is the number of times your ads actually appeared divided by the total number times your ads could have appeared (listed as a percentage). If your campaign’s Impression Share is 50%, then you missed out on 50% of total searches made for those keywords. If that campaign is converting at a satisfactory cost, you could have had double the conversions!


There are two reasons that your Impression Share can be less than 100%: either your bids are too low for your keywords, placements, or targeting lists, causing AdWords to show other advertisers ads who are bidding more, or you have selected an overall campaign budget that gets exhausted in a number of impressions that is less than the total available to you. The first case Google calls “Lost Impression Share due to Rank”, the second “Lost Impression Share due to Budget”. Note that both these metrics are easy to change: If you are losing impressions due to Rank and want to show more, increase your bids for keywords! If you are losing impressions due to Budget and want to show more, increase your budget!


To view Impression Share, click on the “Columns” tab above the blue graph in your AdWords account, and select “Competitive Metrics”. I’ve taken a screenshot of the column customization process below. Here you’ll find all the Impression Share (often referred to as IS) data you could want: you can view overall Impression Share for Search and Display campaigns, as well as Lost IS due to rank or budget.


A feast of Impression Share data for your mind to devour

Let me give you a few examples of ways to use Impression Share data. First, let’s use the Impression share data in the screenshot below:

impression share data

This advertiser is registering a conversion each time someone fills out a quote submission form on their website. They have a fixed budget of $50/day for this campaign. Note that their campaign is “Limited by Budget”, meaning they spend the full $50 with ease each day. Also note that their overall IS is 16.07%, and their Lost IS (budget) is 35.22%. A Lost Impression Share due to Budget that is double total Impression Share means that they could be bidding a lot less for their keywords and still spend their full $50/day budget. They will show in a lower position on average, but they will also be paying less per click, which means more total clicks given their $50/day budget maximum. Impression Share review has told us that just decreasing bids for their keywords will drive down their Cost/Conversion!


Here is another (slightly more complicated) example:

impression data example

This advertiser is tracking phone calls and routing that information into AdWords as a conversion. They also run campaigns on both the Search & Display networks, and although there is a hard cap on dollars spent per day, the budget can be spent on any campaign. A first glance at the campaign data reveals that the Cost/Conversion (cost/phone call) for both Display network campaigns is much lower than the Cost/Conversion of the search campaigns. However, they are spending significantly more on the Search then Display, with Search Impression Shares all over 80% for those Search Campaigns. The Display Impression Share for their two best campaigns, however, is a paltry 10.70% & 25.18%! The account’s overall Cost/Conversion would benefit greatly from moving a large amount of the budget from the Search campaigns to the Display campaigns, as both Display campaigns have high Display Lost IS (budget). In fact, Cost/Conversion is so much better in the Display campaigns that it would also behoove this advertiser to increase bids for the Display network keywords they are targeting. This will increase the Cost/Conversion of the Display campaigns, but since they do so much better than the Search campaigns it should absolutely be worth it. Going back to the previous example, once this advertiser has decreased their Search campaign budgets, they should decrease bids on the keywords in those campaigns, as they don’t need to be in the 1st or 2nd position all the time once the Display network is spending more of the budget.


I’ve made the case for Impression Share review, and you’ve read Ben’s high praise of the Dimensions tab Report. Truth be told, the two are best used in conjunction with one another: if Impression Share review reveals that a campaign has a high Lost IS due to Budget, you can look at the Dimensions tab to determine your worst converting Hours of the Day, Days of the Week, or Geographic Locations and remove them from your campaign to improve Conversions.


Which do you find more valuable: Impression Share Review or the Dimension Tab Reports? Let us know in the comments below!

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