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Google Auction Insights shows 11% of advertisers running sub-optimal campaigns

by mattobrien on June 27, 2012

With the launch of Google Auction Insights, understanding how you feature in the Google search marketplace for your most important keywords has never been easier. There is now no longer the need to search for the word yourself; Google is taking the strain out for you and giving you access to rich and real data.

It shows you the impression share (% of impressions your ad was shown for the selected keyword) you achieved and that of your competitors. It also shows you average position, overlap rate, position above rate and top of page rate, so now you can see who your ads feature up against the most, how often any given competitor’s ad is shown above your own and how often your own and a competitors ad feature in the coveted top 3 ad positions. Looking at this data a bit more closely it is possible to start to deduce how well your competitors may or may not be running and managing their paid search campaigns and how their bidding strategy compares to your own.

So what to look out for?

1. By comparing your impression share with the other advertisers you can start to see how much share of voice you have vs. your key competitors.

2. Looking at the overlap rate will allow you to see how often your ads are shown at the same time as theirs.

3. The position above rate lets you see how often their ad features above your own.

How to spot when someone is doing it badly?

It is possible, and very easy to spend all of your daily budget cap part way through the day. If you do this, Google will simply stop showing your ads, often before the critical evening browsing and purchasing time. When this happens it is shown in Adwords as Lost IS (impression share) budget. This means that either your bids are too high for your budget or your budget is too low for your bids. Either way this is not an efficient way to run a campaign and when this occurs it would be possible to either get more clicks for the same budget or increase your spend (and clicks) without the need to increase your cost per click.

It is possible to spot advertisers affected by this using the auction insights report and to deduce that they are not running their campaigns as efficiently or as well as your own. For example Advertiser A is showing up on the Auction Insights report as having a very high average position, 1. However, they also have a low impression share (comparative to average position), of 50%. This means that they are bidding enough to hit the top spot in Google, but that their ads are only being show half the time.

Where this is the case, you don’t always need to compete with Advertiser A purely on bid price alone. Knowing that they are likely to run out of budget halfway through the day means that you can occupy the top ad spots once they are no longer being show, without having to bid a higher amount than they do.

We found that 11% of advertisers were running out of budget part way through the day, meaning that they were not visible to potential customers during the key evening research and sales period.

Overall we are enjoying the visibility and transparency that Auction Insights is giving to our clients. It is showing them that through well structured campaign management processes it is possible to achieve the highest impression share in the market, and not necessarily with the largest budget. If you haven’t taken a look at your own campaign, we would urge you to do so now. And if you have any questions about how to interpret the data or want talking through it on your own account, just give us a call, we encourage all clients in accessing and evaluating their own campaigns.

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