Google has just announced the release of Search Impression Share data at the keyword level!  Our search for tools that allow for the most detailed analysis has reached another mile marker. This will allow us to change our approach to impression share metrics (and the leveraging thereof)
Quick glance at what this means, exactly: We are looking at our individual keyword performance and identifying what impressions we’re missing out on and what we can do to remedy this.
Search I.S. 101

Sample data pull:    Screen Shot 2013-07-03 at 10.50.11 AM

So what am I looking at?
Impression Share – percentage of your impression traffic relative to what’s possible.

  • High %: You’re catching a lot of the opportunities to impress that are passing through. Let’s say your high percentage is around 70%, that means you’re getting more impressions than not, but clearly there’s room for improvement.
  • Low %:  You’re missing out on this many chances to show your ad!

Lost Impression Share due to rank– what you’re missing because of poor position or rank.

  • High %: You are missing out on a LOT of traffic. Your ads are impressing at a low average position to the point where you are missing opportunities for clicks and conversions. Here, a 70% would show you that because of your ad rank, you are only pulling in 30% of the impressions you could get! (Don’t worry, helpful tips are listed below!)
  • Low %: Your ad rank isn’t having a negative effect on the impression opportunities for which you’re eligible. Oh, good!

Here’s a quick reference to help keep it straight: Impression Share (what you did show) + Lost Impression Share (what you didn’t show) =  100% of possible impressions.

Exact Match Impression Share– percentage of the time when your ad was served for an exact match to keywords in your account.

  • High %: If you had a keyword in your account that exactly matched the search query, you got the impression.
  • Low %:  You were only catching those impressions a small portion of the time, even though an exact keyword match was present in your account.

BONUS: Mobile data analysis

As we acclimate ourselves to all the twists & turns of Enhanced Campaigns, we are constantly reminded of the option to adjust our bids based on device. Impression volume is no different. In this sample, we can see that not all impressions are alike, especially between device.

Where a specific keyword like grape soda pop seems to have Desklet (our way of lumping Desktop and Tablet traffic into the same report) under wraps, it’s clear that our mobile traffic is missing out on some impressions.

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Using this data
We’ve given lots of demos and tips for what to do with your impression share data. But all of this was before the big release of keyword level information. Now that you can get out your magnifying glass and see just how your individual keywords are performing, how are you going to go forward.

Here are a few ways to assess this new found knowledge (and also a few solutions):

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My Lost IS due to ad rank is uncomfortably high. Missing out on 66% of my impression possibilities because my ad is ranking too low?? That’s ridiculous! Now what I must do is figure out what can be done to remedy this.

I can either reassess my ad group and ad relevance to push for better overall ad position (via the good ol’ Quality Score) OR I can operate on the keyword level solution. What do I mean? The keyword level bid strategies, of course. These strategies can include optimizing your CPC bid for a particular keyword to attain either first page status or a particular position. If you’ve got a serious Lost IS (rank), pushing for first page is well within a reasonable first step. Next step might be to push for top 5 or even top 3. As your ad climbs, watch you % shift. Better yet, watch how your move toward your goals as you identify the “sweet spot” for the ad associated with this keyword.

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What’s a circumstance where I need to worry about lost opportunity? For one of my best performing keywords, we’ve got a great conversion rate and click-through-rate. I want to ensure that it gets all the impressions (and clicks) possible.  When I pull an IS report, I need those numbers to be nice and high or else I’m clearly missing.

A Top Performer that isn’t getting the chance to show its stuff?? Unthinkable! For a scenario such as this, I want to consider my targeting. If my campaign is highly targeted, I may see an inflated impression share due to a smaller traffic “pie.” But on the keyword level, we can find consistency across keywords in a single campaign, meaning the proportionate difference is still significant.
Then I turn to my bids. A keyword that has a consistently high CR and CTR deserves every chance to convert. Here I turn on my “Maximize Clicks” bid strategy (just for the keyword, mind you!) and watch as my impression share peaks at 99.6%. Why do I do this? Because I’m confident that if they can just see the ad, they’ll click. And if they click, they will likely convert. So we change our bid strategy, accumulate data, and see how the test works!

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If the Exact Match Impression Share is coming in low, this means the frequency with which users are being exactly matched to your keywords is low. But what does this mean? How would it be different if a specific keyword had a high percentage of exact match?
Low percentage? You’re betting on the wrong pony. The next step is to identify what exact matches you’re missing. Why should you care about exact matches in your account? Because this is one step closer to targeting just the right user who is looking to convert. Turn those babies exact and see if you can’t improve your rank and CTR. Coming up as an exact match locks your ad into the running every time someone searches it. This is the essence of Impression Share.


Fine. One last question. Only because I’m a sucker for baby animals looking quizzical.

Q.4) So, now that I have a great impression share percentage, what do I do?

A.4)  This is your chance to pursue other ways of garnering traffic. Display is a great option, specifically good old Remarketing. Target the people you know are interested. If you’ve identified them as being an audience that deserves more chances to convert, Remarketing lets you continue to reach out. Other display tactics, such as contextual keywords also let you use successful keywords in a new way. If a user is reading about a keyword you know to be a high converter, chances are you want to show them your ad in that very moment!

Still wondering about your lost impression share? Go back to basics!
–        Quality Score. Sure, Google plays favorites. It you aspire to a better Quality Score (i.e. User experience), you’ll be rewarded. So play nice and bump up your quality score.
–        Check that your ads are running. You may think you’ve got all your ducks in a row, but it turns out a glitch in your ads (policy violation, incorrect formatting, etc) is holding you back.  It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on your ad approvals following any major upload. This catches the problem before it hits!

Any tips you’ve come across for how to successfully use your keyword-level impression data? We love your input, so feel free to share- and thanks for reading!