Use AdWords Impression Share to start optimizing your account

Google AdWords is a powerful advertising platform to promote your business online. Over the years AdWords has become more and more complex which can make it a little over whelming for inexperienced advertisers to optimize their accounts for the best results.

If you have been running your AdWords ads for a while, at least 30 days, and are tracking conversions, use AdWords Impression Share to start optimizing your account. If you have not been tracking conversions read our article on conversion tracking and start now!

What is Impression Share?

AdWords Impression Share is a metric that shows the percentage of time your ad was displayed when it was eligible. Remember, all eligible ads are ranked for every ad position that becomes available. In the Google Search Network ranking is determined by the total of quality score times bid amount. In the Google Display Network ads are ranked by bid amount.

Your Impression Share drops every time your ad is eligible to show but does not. For example, let us assume you have bid on the keyword shoes and that keyword is searched for 100 times. You would have 100 opportunities to get an ad impression but maybe you only received 67 impressions due to a low ad rank or maybe you hit your daily budget. This would give you an Impression Share of 67%.  Impression share is important because in the example you would have missed the opportunity for 33 more impressions that could have been very valuable to you.

How to see your Impression Share

Impression Share is not one of the default metrics in AdWords. In order to view this information you will need to add a column to your AdWords dashboard. Impression Share must be added at every level you wish to view it. Adding the impression share metric at the campaign level will not automatically display this metric at the keyword level.  To add this metric simply go to the view in your AdWords dashboard you wish to see it and look for the columns menu just below your main tabs.

AdWords Dashboard

Customize Columns

Once you select customize columns you will find your Impression Share metrics under Competitive metrics.

Impression Share columns

Impression Share Metrics

You will find a number of impression share metrics listed. Just click the >> next to the metrics you wish to see to add them to your column view and then click the blue apply button in the bottom left corner.

Now you will see these metrics in your AdWords dashboard view.

If you are using the Google Search Network I would suggest adding these 3 metrics to start optimizing your account.

Search Impr. Share

Search Lost IS (rank)

Search Lost IS (budget)

Lost IS stands for lost Impression Share. In the search network you can lose Impression Share due to rank or budget and AdWords separates the 2 metrics for you.

How to use this data to optimize your AdWords account

You are probably beginning to understand why conversion tracking is so important. By adding Impression Share metrics at the keyword level and tracking conversions, you will be able to see missed opportunities at the keyword level.

If you have a keyword that is converting very well but has lost Impression Share due to ad rank, you can simply increase the bid on that keyword or take steps to increase the quality score of that keyword. Doing this will increase impression share for that keyword and deliver more conversions. Discovering lost impression share on keywords that do not convert allows you to pause or remove those keywords to make more room in your budget for the better performing keywords.

Lost IS due to budget is a very simple fix. You will just need to increase your budget or you might even move some keywords into a new campaign so that they have their own budget. You might have just a few keywords that use up almost your entire budget so you need to make sure those keywords are converting.

Impression Share metrics are not the most important metric but they provide a starting point to optimization. If you are not able to track conversions you can still use this method to begin optimizing your account.  You need to be able to see which keywords are losing Impression Share and why. Once you determine that you can begin the process of re-organizing your campaigns, bids, and budget to get the most out of every AdWords advertising dollar you spend.