What do you do when you feel like you’ve hit the traffic ceiling for your campaigns? There are no budgets restricting your ad distribution but you still feel like you aren’t generating the amount of traffic you think you’re capable of. The next step you can take is to focus on your campaigns’ impression share. Today, I would like to define Impression Share within Google AdWords, what it means to you, and how you can improve this aspect of your campaign.

Impression share is a metric that represents the percentage of times your ads were shown out of the total number of page impressions in the market you were targeting. Basically, this report measures how many impressions you received compared to the total number of impressions for your keywords. Keep in mind, you can measure impression share only on the search network.

First things first: how do you find out what your impression share is? Within the Reports tab of AdWords you can add  impression share columns to your campaign report. You can acquire impression share information only with a campaign level report (no ad groups, etc.). Here is a quick screen shot:

In this report, you can see that I checked these boxes that regard to impression share: Impression Share (IS), Lost IS (Rank), Lost IS (Budget), Exact Match IS. What does each term mean?

Impressions Share (IS): As mentioned above, this will give you the impression share for each campaign.

Lost IS (Rank): This column reflects a portion of the total page impressions you were eligible for that were lost due to budget or rank reasons.

Lost IS (Budget): This column reflects the  impression share you are losing due to an insufficient budget.

Between these three columns, this is your impression share equation: Your impression share + Lost IS (Budget) + Lost IS (Rank) = 100%.

Exact Match IS: This column reports the impression share of your campaigns as if your keywords were set to Exact Match. Since keyword match type can affect your impression share, Impression Share Exact Match can help you determine your impression share for just the specific keywords you are targeting without requiring you to make adjustments to your campaigns.

In regards to these reports, keep mind that Google AdWords does not report lost impression share measures below 10% because the values may not be meaningful based on the volume of data available. These values are expressed as ‘N/A’ in the columns.

Here is how my impression share report looks!

What is this report telling me?

My overall impression share for this campaign is low. However, my Exact Match impression share is very high at 85%. This is good news because it means that I am showing on all the exact variations.

Next, I’ll look at the impression share lost to budget and rank. My impression share loss due to budget is 0%, which means my budget is high enough to show at all times. However, my impression due to rank is 62%. This is most likely the reason why the overall impression share is low.

My average rank of 3 is high, however, the ads are not showing enough on all the expansions and other variations (i.e. broad match & phrase match). In order to increase the overall impression share and decrease the percentage due to rank, I will run a search query report. If I find relevant variations in the report, I will  add these to my keyword list as exact match keywords. Doing so will allow me to show on those expansions and should improve my impression share percentage.

So, what is a good percentage for impression share? A 100% impression share is an unrealistic number. Since impression share is the percentage your ad shows versus the total number of possibilities, it is not not very likely an ad will show on all expansions and variations all the time. Therefore, you should aim to have as high a number of impression share as possible. I have asked around and I think if you’re impression share is between 65-75%, you’re doing pretty good.

Your impression share report will certainly look different from mine but here are some rules of thumb to follow when interpreting your data:

  • If your Impression Share (IS) is low, then something is holding you back. Look at your Exact Match IS and if this is high, then your other keyword variations are not displaying to their full potential.
  • If your Lost IS (Rank) is high, then you need to increase bids as you are not ranking high enough.
  • If your Lost IS (Budget) is high, then you need to increase your budget as your ads are not displaying at all times.

If you need more traffic/clicks/conversions for your campaign, you may not have to look far. In fact, they may be right under your nose. You just have to look and the impression share report can help!