Position Preference - When in Doubt, Bid High

Position preference is an advanced feature in Google AdWords that gives users more control over the positioning of their ads.

Why do advertisers need or want to use this feature?

* Direct-response advertisers can target their most cost-effective ad position.

* This means that if you know you get the best results by running your ads at the bottom of the first page, you can select this as your position preference and AdWords won’t show your ad unless it’s within the range of your position preference. Even better, if your ad is trying to rank higher than your preferred position, AdWords will lower your bid in order to position it at the bottom of the first page

* Brand advertisers can make sure that their ads run only in the most visible positions.

* For brand advertisers who may only care about being at the top of every page for branding purposes, they can select a position preference of 1 or 2. If their ad quality score or bids are too low to show in positions 1 or 2, the ad will not show at all or may show in a lower position. Google does note that they try to match your position preferences exactly, but it’s not guaranteed.

How do I set up my ads to use position preference?

* First, you must set up position preference at the campaign level. To do this, select the campaign for which you wish to set the position preference.

* At the top of AdWords, click Edit Campaign Settings. At the bottom of this page, check the box that says Enable Position Preferences.

* From here, go to your ad group for which you want to set a position preference. Click Settings under the Settings column. Then, click Edit under Position Preference. At this point you are asked to set your highest and lowest position preference.

* Note: It may take a couple of days to activate your position preference settings.

How do I know what positions I need my ads to show in?

* Below are tips from Google on how to set up your position preference settings.

1. Review your current bids and average positions, and use them as a guide. For example, if you want your ad to show in positions 2 to 4, and your current maximum cost-per-click (CPC) of $1.00 buys you an average position of 3.8, you will need to raise your base bid. Otherwise, your ad will show at times in positions 2 to 4, but you will lose all the impressions you have been receiving below position 4.

2. Use the traffic estimator. It can help you predict what maximum CPCs will be needed to allow you to compete for your preferred positions.

3. Broader is better. When you set a position preference range, you also restrict the inventory available to your ads. To get the most exposure for your ad, it’s better to select a range of positions, such as 3 to 8, rather than a single position, such as 4.

4. When in doubt, bid high. The position preference feature protects you by discounting your bid if it places your ad above your preferred position. Set your maximum CPC to the highest amount you are comfortable paying, and AdWords will discount it when possible.

5. Be patient. The position preference feature typically needs a few days to gather performance data and calibrate its targeting. Your ad may begin showing in your preferred range almost immediately, or it may take a few days to adjust. We encourage you to experiment, as always, but be aware that every time you change your position preferences the system will need to recalibrate.

6. Google also suggests that you monitor your position preference campaigns closely. You may notice a large increase or decrease in impressions depending on what position you chose and your maximum CPC. Running daily reports will help you monitor your campaign and make changes as necessary.

We have found that keyword bids will overrule your position preference most of the time (and this has been confirmed by our Google rep). So if you prefer to be in position 4 to 5 but have 3 other competitors who want the same position, the advertiser with the highest max bid will be bumped up in position. Your bid still dictates in which position your ad will appear. In other words, your position preference is exactly that: a preference.

TIP: If you find that your ads keep appearing in position 2 but your position preference is 4 to 5, lower your bid, because it is bumping you out of your preferred placement.