Google to sunset Average Position metric

10 September 2019

With September 30th almost upon us, it’s nearly time to say goodbye to one of the most popular metrics within Google Ads, Average Position. I say most popular, even though I’ve not actually used it to meaningfully analyse performance in a long time. Instead, it tends to be more popular with clients, who are usually keen to achieve that first ad position.

What is Average Position?

The Average Position metric indicates the ordering (not location) of ads on the SERP. An average position of 1 simply means that your ad has been shown in the 1st ad placement on the page. However, it doesn’t tell you whether that 1st position was at the very top of the SERPs or below the organic results, as sometimes ads are only shown at the bottom of the SERPS.

Since Google switched from the static SERP (fixed number of ads at the top) to a more dynamic SERP (variable number of ads at the top) back in 2016, the Average Position metric has become rather redundant.

Let’s say you’re being shown an average position of 4 for your keyword, this would suggest that your ad is being shown in the last position above the organic results. However, Google will sometimes only show 2-3 ads above the organic results, meaning position 4 is the 1st or 2nd ad below the organic results.

We know from experience that ads tend to perform much better when placed above the organic results. Without clarity on exactly where an ad is showing makes it difficult to identify whether you should be bidding more to improve your position or not.

What’s replacing average position?

Google has already effectively replaced average position. In November 2018, it rolled out two new metrics for identifying how your ad is being placed on the SERPs:

  • Impression Share (Absolute Top)
  • Impression Share (Top)

These metrics do a much better job at identifying where your ad is being shown, which is the key to measuring the success of the placement, allowing us to adjust bids as required to boost performance for our clients. 

‘Impression Share (Absolute Top)’ will highlight the percentage of impressions in which your ad was shown in the top position on the SERP, whereas ‘Impression Share (Top)’ simply indicates the percentage of impressions in which your ad was shown in the top 4 ad positions.

Are we going to miss average position?

As we mentioned already, the metric is somewhat irrelevant since the change in the SERPs, not to mention the fact that it’s not something we’ve used in quite some time to analyse performance.

With the new metrics providing clearer insight into where the ad is showing, Average Position isn’t something we’re going to miss particularly.

Caroline Byrnes, Senior PPC Manager here at Avenue had this to say about it:

 “The removal of avg. position shouldn’t affect the day to day management of our accounts. The metric was quite vague and provided little insight into the actual position of the ads. The new metrics will provide better insight and clarity into our client’s actual ad positions.”

As with any Google tool or product (or any other advertising platform for that matter), we’ve learnt not to get too attached to any one metric or feature as these platforms are always changing. The removal of Average Position looks to be a step closer to the complete automation of Google Ads, and we expect to see more metrics and features removed or replaced in the not so distant future as Google continues to move towards making Google Ads a fully automated platform.

 

 

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