What Search Marketers Need to Know about Google’s Impression Share Makeover

Kye Mou
November 26, 2012

This post is by Mason Garrity, Account Manager at PPC Associates. Mason got his start in PPC in 2006 at Kayak.com while still in college at Pomona. After graduation, Mason started an internet division for a New York City-based yellow pages company and went on to start his own agency to work with New York City-based startups.

Many of you may know that Google has been planning on making some big changes to their Impression Share (IS) algorithm and that the changes, to be implemented early this month, will impact historical IS data.

Impression Share Dates and Information

Here’s a breakdown of Google’s new IS developments:

  1. “Distinct search and display columns.” My take on this: you should be segmenting your campaigns based on network already and therefore already have distinct search and display IS metrics! If you aren't you have much more fundamental things to tackle in your account than Search and GDN Impression Share.
  2. “Hour of day segmentation.” This sounds a little more useful and pretty good on the surface – more data is always better, right? Of course, but only if it’s actionable. Just because you can slice the data in your accounts in more ways, doesn’t mean you always should – be careful working off of insufficient data! Where this should help is with time-of-day auction conditions in campaigns where you are trying to maximize IS. You’ll now know if there are certain hours of the day where you are losing IS, and you can make the proper bid adjustments in your Ad Scheduling settings.
  3. “Filters, charts and rules.” To me, this sounds like the most valuable improvement. If you have tranches or even specific queries that you want to have 100% IS (or as close to as possible), being able to set up rules adjusting bids to ensure this happens would be very helpful. We’ll see how these features are actually rolled out by Google.
  4. “Accuracy.” I’m always a fan of increased data accuracy.

The Google reps I've heard from haven’t provided many specifics on when exactly these improvements will be released – the one date floated was Nov. 3, but from the looks of my accounts, that wasn't the case. The good news is that if you were planning on using some historical IS numbers for reporting or presentations and haven’t yet grabbed the pre-Oct. 1 info yet, you can still access it. So go ahead and download any data that you think you may need before it’s gone for good! The latest AdWords blog update suggests it was sometime earlier this month.

At PPC Associates, our process is centered on the Alpha-Beta Campaign structure, which allows us to do some pretty neat things with IS. Our Alpha campaigns are our high-value, high-volume queries in exact match single keyword ad groups. These keywords are also exact-match negged out across the rest of our Beta Campaigns, ensuring forced mappings. What’s awesome about that is when Google gave us Ad Group level IS data at the start of 2012, they were essentially giving anyone who runs their campaigns in this manner query-level IS data since 1 AG = 1 Query with guaranteed mappings. Being able to ensure that you have maximum coverage on your high value queries is great from a management perspective, and it lets you reassure your clients that you are not missing out on any clicks on their most valued queries.

Impression Share is a powerful metric that should be incorporated into your regular checks and reporting, and can be used to find holes and opportunities that you are not fully taking advantage of. Once your account is really running on all cylinders and you have your fundamentals locked down, you can start to do some advanced things with IS, like creating Opportunity Reports to show your clients.

Stay tuned for Google’s imminent changes and share any interesting ways you plan on using these new features.

- Mason Garrity

Mason Garrity
Sign Up and Get Updates by Email
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.