In February, Google officially announced that the “Average Position” metric will be coming to an end on September 30th. This decision took many users by surprise, as it was one of the main metrics to optimise performance.
But wait a second, what exactly is the average position? According to Google, this metric is “the order in which your ad shows up on a page”. For example, if an ad showed once at first place, and then it showed behind another advertiser (2.0), the average position would be 1.5.
In this article, you will discover how this metric has been misinterpreted and how to deal with the new position metrics moving forward.
Why has google moved on?
In the past, ads in the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) used to be on the right side of the organic results as well. That being the case, the average position fulfilled its role of showing ads’ performance from 1 to 7.
Figure 1 Source: https://www.ppchero.com/4-ppc-misconceptions-of-adwords-keywords/
But the SERP has changed over time; new snippets, shopping results… and different ad distribution. For instance, depending on the query, device or even the hour of the day, Google shows a different number of ads with the only limit of 3 on the top and 4 on the bottom of the page.
Nowadays Google can show a single ad located on the bottom of the page. In this case, the average position of the ad would be 1, yet it would be far from the common conception of the ad being on a prominent and visible position of the SERP.
What are we going to do now?
Instead of relying on the average position metric, last year Google released new solutions; the top and absolute top metrics. Unlike the average position, these metrics don’t consist of an average or show the order of the ads, but rather the actual location of the ads on the SERP.
For example, if a keyword triggering the ad has had 150 impressions and, of those, 40 have appeared at the top position, the keyword’s top position would be 26.6%.
This opens new possibilities to interpret the real position the ads are appearing on the search page results. On top of that, they give a solution to the problem we faced above were an average position 1 keyword was showing at the bottom of the page. Below are some other examples:
Not everything is perfect, though. These new metrics, as pointed previously, diminish the information about the competitor's activity. When the average position metric disappears, the only way advertisers can check competitor activity will be through the “auction insights", leveraging the “overlap rate” and the “outranking share".
Another notable limitation is the impossibility of using the (absolute) top position metrics on certain reports like “ad scheduling” or “devices," as well as “locations". While we can still segment the campaigns or the keywords by “devices” or “day of the week", Google hasn’t included the new metrics to the geographic reports. The same happens to the audience tab where we can see the average position but not the (absolute) top position metrics.
The disappearance of the average position will cause some inconveniences and it will force advertisers to come up with new strategies to outbid the competitors efficiently. However, this is another chance to consider these new metrics and reconsider the old (mis)conceptions of average position by focusing on the actual ad location on the SERP.