Google Ads had announced on 26th February, 2019 that it will sunset average position in September 2019. This announcement triggered a lot of mixed responses in the PPC industry. Even though Google gave the first sign of the average position removal when the last year November they introduced four new ad position metrics.
Why the change was required?
Change is the only thing which is constant in the society but still no one likes it. When Google rolled out their new ad position metrics in November last year, they wanted to move our attention from average position to impression share.
According to the article by Frederick Vallaeys, this change was required as it was a poor metric to understand the positions and here is why:
The word ‘position’ refers to a relative position compared to other advertisers and has nothing to do with a physical position on the page where the ad is shown. Advertisers often care more about where their ad is shown rather than who they were beating in the auction so the average position metric became less meaningful and it’s no surprise it is being sunset by Google
Pallavi Naresh , Product Manager in Google Ads gave the following reason for this decision,
These new metrics give you a much clearer view of your prominence on the page than average position does.
Robert Brady discussed the two reasons for this change:
First, Google wants advertisers to stop thinking of the average position as describing where their ads show on the SERP. In reality, it has been more accurate to think of average position as the rank for that particular auction. The second reason is that Google wants advertisers to move away from manual bidding to automated bidding as it can help advertisers to gain greater efficiency for low budget campaign
And here is how this change might impact bidding
Instead of focusing only on average position when making bid adjustments, try pulling in some of the new impression share metrics to influence your adjustments.
And why the new metrics might still not be that reliable
In the case of both average position and impression share, neither should be heavily relied on in most cases since neither reflect actual costs or sales driven by ads, and rather reflect only the appearance of the ad on the page.
Since 15 years, average position is serving advertisers faithfully but it’s utility has been decreased in recent years. While the departure of average position looks scary, Kamlyn Spivey gives us well the reasons not to be anxious in her article written in PPC Hero.
What do PPC experts think:
There were mixed responses from PPC experts after this announcement. Let’s have a look at what they had to say.
Andy Taylor, Associate Director of Research, from Merkle concluded
While advertisers that are shooting for specific locations on the page should find alternative metrics like absolute top impression share adequate for assessing the competitive landscape and making optimizations, these metrics don’t shed light on some deeper trends that average position has helped identify over the years.
Martin Röttgerding, Head of SEA at the online marketing agency Bloofusion says,
” Although I think it’s a shame to lose a metric, I can understand this step and also get something good from him. The index of the average position has always been a double-edged sword, which has led to many misunderstandings.”
Frederick Vallaeys expressed his views in an article published in Search Engine Land
“Nowadays, automated bidding is so ubiquitous and cheap that [manual] bid-to-position strategies simply don’t make a lot of sense for the majority of advertisers.”
Courtney Charroux, a member of Wordstream’s Customer Success team, was slightly critical:
“I’m an avid user of average position. I have a client in a very popular industry, and I like having those hard averages to identify my success with the account and to know where I should adjust.”
Ginny Marvin at Search Engine Land wrote:
“Change is constant in search advertising, but average position has one of the few constants for more than 15 years. Yet, with the removal of right rail ads, in particular, its utility has sharply declined in recent years.”
PPC experts also took to Twitter to express their opinion regarding this announcement
What do PPC experts think?
Google is certain that these four new metrics are more insightful than average position, and the PPC community doesn’t seem all that sad to see the metric go—for the most part. #googleads #ppc #search #leads #digitalmarketing https://t.co/ZocMSbXBPp
— Benny Mazzier (@BMazzier) February 28, 2019
Is this real life? No More position data!
— dan lewis (@danlewis8) February 26, 2019
Truthfully, I’m not that torn up about losing Avg Pos, though still a big change. We’ve moved more towards utilizing Impression Share metrics in our bidding rules anyway so this won’t impact our day to day too much. #ppcchat
— Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk) February 26, 2019
"Avg. position is only relative to other ads. The new metrics take organic results into account too. Take a look at avg. position & the new metrics and segment by device in a couple accounts. This helped me realize how much more info we’re getting from the new metrics." #ppcchat
— Hanapin Marketing (@Hanapin) February 28, 2019
CPCs to rise and advertisers to have less visibility? There’s quite a lot of difference between position 2 and 4 in terms of performance and this is removing that information #ppcchat #googleads https://t.co/KdtaOroOnk
— Dan E (@de0190) February 27, 2019
To conclude, we still have time until September 2019 to review and analyze our campaigns that are depending on average position. As seen PPC experts are not overwhelmed rather they are welcoming of this change and are certain that new metrics will be more insightful.
What’s your take on this change? Leave your response in the comment section below.