Top 5 ways to use AdWords’ new Auction Insights tool

By , Associate Director of Paid Search at Hanapin Marketing


By now I’m sure you’ve all taken the time to read PPC Hero’s update on Google’s new Auction Insights feature (see Google’s own blog otherwise). I’m also sure many of you took a couple of minutes to poke around with the tool in AdWords, thinking “cool” to yourselves, and then walked away never to return. However, as many of us PPC account managers know, getting the most out of new tools is what keeps us ahead of the competition. To help you get started we’ve come up with our top 5 tips to making the most out of Auction Insights – if you happen to know any other great uses please share it in the comments section!

1. Know Your Competition

The great thing about Auction Insights as opposed to Ad Preview is that you will see all your competition, not just the top results at the time of searching. You can also start to try and learn a little about the strategy of your competitors. Perhaps someone is always showing in position 1, but only for 50% of the time – did you just discover a competitor who is day-parting?

At the moment the data only goes back 30 days, and then only for keywords with enough data, however in a few months time you’ll be able to see if your competition like to start the month high, if they regularly run out of budget at the end of the month, if their position has been steadily improving month on month. If there’s a particular competitor showing below you but getting better every month, perhaps their ad is good and worth copying.

If you have a tight budget, you might want to see which niche keywords your competitors haven’t discovered yet so you can own them early. If your performance on other keywords is struggling you can identify if larger household name companies are drifting into your niche searches with their high bid broad matches.

Is your manager demanding to be number 1 on certain keywords? Auction Insights will help you identify if that is realistic or if you will be going up against a deeply entrenched behemoth.

2. Enhance Your Branded Campaigns

Use AdWords Insights to make sure you are dominating all your branded keywords. You want to avoid a situation where competitor ads are showing and yours aren’t. If you find a consistent small group of competitors are showing on all your branded terms, you could always call them up and agree not to bid on each other’s brand terms.

Auction Insights Branded Campaign

How your branded keywords should look


3. Get Extra Insight For Negative Matching

Do you notice competition from other industries showing up in your keyword auction? If you’re checking a broad match keyword this gives you a pretty strong indication that there are some unrelated search queries being included in there somewhere.

I’d still recommend using your search query data first and foremost for negatives, but a lot of the time information gets lost in the dreaded “other search queries” list. By looking at your Auction Insights you can see if there is a keyword landscape you’ve forgotten to negative out. If you work in vacation insurance you want to make sure you aren’t overlapping with a lot of health insurance companies.

4. Avoid Overpaying Google

A pretty simple tip, but if you’re number 1 and no one else gets close to you in any of the Auction Insights stats, it might be worth slowly bringing your bids down. Keep checking until you find your sweet spot.

5. Avoid Underbidding

Up until now lost impression share has only been available on an ad group level, meaning in an ad group with two or more important keywords it has been hard to tell which of them is missing out on impressions. Instead of bidding up the whole ad group, you can focus in on just the keywords that will stand to gain most.

Impression Share Insights

Could you be getting a better impression share?


There you have it! Let me know your thoughts on Auction Insights in the comments below!

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7 thoughts on “Top 5 ways to use AdWords’ new Auction Insights tool

    1. Sam OwenSam Owen

      I don’t see that it isn’t available worldwide yet – or at least not from what I have read. Google do tend to start in the US with most of their new features though so it might just be that it gets rolled out to you a little slower. 

  1. L Laurent

    Remember that u need to get some minimum data to get the tool working and maybe its not appearing the symbol but the tool is there i have that problem. Im wondering how to use it for benchmark reports

  2. James Porter

    2 things…is the confusion about insights no showing to do with the fact that google has withdrawn the graph icon from the page? also, sam, thanks for your article. i’m a little confused about point 4 ‘avoid overpaying’…i was under the impression that whatever my bid I would only end up paying e.g. 1p more than the next highest bid. am i wrong in thinking that? thanks very much

    1. Sam OwenSam Owen

      Hi James, thanks for commenting! I think the confusion is probably a mixture of the staggered roll out without much indication from Google about which accounts would get it first or which countries would/wouldn’t get it. I think it was a good move to take away the mini-chart (looks cleaner now), but you’re probably right about it adding to the confusion – some people might not check their options under the keyword details tab, but would notice if the chart was there.

      As for ‘avoid overpaying’ you are correct and perhaps I rushed the point a little without clarifying. According to Google you should only pay 1p/1c more than you need to: If your bids are set nicely and the keyword is humming along then you don’t need to bring your bids down. However if you have a high Max CPC of say $10, and your average CPC is $0.69 (and your CPA is about right at that level), then you don’t want to run the risk of that average CPC creeping way up in a space you dominate. Use insights to recognize your strength on that keyword and creep your bids down (even if competitors get above you, generally they will fall back down when your QS/CTR is much higher ). Again, this point might have been a little tenuous, but I think there can be some merit to approaching all your keywords with an eye to having the lowest possible bid. Especially if you don’t 100% trust the Google Algorithm to be right all the time!

  3. Fran Gleed

    “Perhaps someone is always showing in position 1, but only for 50% of the
    time – did you just discover a competitor who is day-parting? ”

    GA says the impression share percentage shown relates to ‘How often a
    participant received an impression, as a proportion of the auctions in
    which you were also competing.” Surely if a competitor was day-parting, they would not be eligible to enter the auction at those times, therefore they would not be competing with you therefore that couldnt be the reason why their impression share was low? The only reason I can think of why someone would be showing in position 1, but only for 50% of the
    time compared to you would be budget constraints?……

    Or have I got that wrong?……

    1. Sam OwenSam Owen

      You could well be right – I interpreted it to be anytime you were in the auction (not both of you were in the auction together). 


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