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Google AdWords: Making Sense Impression Share

Impression share is a little known metric but a very important one and one that is often disregarded or forgotten. It does, however, provide valuable information on the health of your online ad campaigns.We need to first understand what it is. Found in Adwords as well as Bing on other search networks, impression share is the percentage of possible searches that your ads are actually showing on.Let’s say that there are 1000 searches in a month on a term for which you are bidding for. If your ads were shown 700 times, your share would be 70%. Since the idea behind advertising is to show your ads to as many people as possible, the ideal share would be 100% and that should be your goal, or at least get as close to it as possible.What affects showing your ads only 70% and not 100%? What can you do to get them to show the other 30%?There are two main variables that are under your control.The first, as always, is your Quality Score. Increase your QS and your share can increase as well. The reason is very simple. There is a limited number of ads that can be shown but there usually is more advertisers than the available ad space. This means that some advertisers will not be shown for every search. Since the system favours showing higher quality ads, both because it's good business (providing a higher quality product to searchers) and for maximizing profits, the higher quality advertisers will be shown more often. Having a higher QS is therefore to your advantage. Of course, you still need to bid high enough to rank as well as other advertisers who also have good QS.Google Adwords provides additional information other than just your share. They also show the reasons why your ads were not shown. One of these is Lost IS Due to Rank. This means that your ad rank, which is your QS times your bid, is not high enough. Check your QS. If your QS is average (4 to 6) to poor (below 4), you will have a harder time to show your ads, even if your bid is very high. If it's good, 7 to 10, you should still try to improve but you may need to increase your bid to get a bigger share. If you are already bidding at or above the average rate, it means there are many advertisers competing for the same keywords as you.The second reason your share may be lower is because of a budget that's too low. If your budget becomes exhausted, you don't show ads. Those are impressions you are not getting and thus your share is lower. Adwords tells you this as well, Lost IS Due to Budget.To resume, there are three things to do to increase your impression share:

  1. Raise the quality of your campaigns, always the preferred option.
  2. Bid more to increase your ad rank, best when QS is 7 or more and you are not bidding the average rate.
  3. Increase your budget.
Headshot of Nik Paprocki, head of growth at WebSuitable.
Nik Paprocki
Head Of Growth
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