Google Ads Session Blog

Google prepares to withdraw the average position metric from Google Ads

Search giant Google has announced the date for with drawing its average position metric, saying this will happen from the week beginning September 30.

The news comes as no great surprise. The corporation announced in February that it would begin ‘sunsetting’ (ugh!) the metric, having used it for more than 15 years. (Average position was one of the original search metrics, and has been a rare constant in an ever-changing industry.)

Now, with a few weeks to go, and a date given, there’s a little time for account managers to think about what the change will mean, and to implement any necessary updates to reporting rules or scripts which use the metric.

What is average position?

Businesses competing in a Google Ads auction receive an Ad Rank based on quality score and their bid. Rank determines how the paid search results are ordered, so it decides your ad’s position.

Why is Google doing this?

Put bluntly, the search engine doesn’t think average position is a useful tool anymore, particularly when compared to Google’s newer metrics.

In recent years, average position has simply become less valuable, especially since ads no longer appear on the right rail of desktop search results.

Certainly, average position doesn’t always give a full picture in terms of where search ads are showing, which has caused some confusion. Ad positioning explains the ordering rather than the location of the paid search results. Your top position ad could still be displaying below the organic search results, for example. This may not always help you to make informed bidding decisions.

The new metrics

Google firmly believes its four newer metrics are more insightful than average position, and is encouraging advertisers to switch to these.

They include search top and search absolute top impression rates.

Both show the percentage of impressions and impression share that adverts gained in the absolute top (i.e. the first ad at the top of the search page) and above the organic results (top of page) slots.

Similarly, top impression share and absolute top impression share express the rate at which you’re converting opportunities to appear at the top of the SERPS or the very top respectively, into actual impressions. In other words, it shows how effectively you’ve managed to get ads shown to users. If this all sounds too complicated then why not check our PPC packages and take the headache away.

Google Ads product manager Pallavi Naresh said: “The new metrics provide a clearer view of prominence on the page than average position.”

In recent months, Google has also introduced the click share metric to search campaigns.

What will actually happen?

From the end of September, the following functions currently using average position will no longer be available:

  • Rules
  • Custom columns
  • Saved reports
  • Saved filters

Average position will also be taken off any saved column sets, saved reports using the average position column without filtering on it, and scorecards in dashboards.

At the same time, the Value Track parameter, which collects data on sources of ad clicks, will begin returning an empty string.

What happens now?

If you’ve previously found average position helpful, use it while you still can. Equally, it’s a good time to familiarise yourself with automated bidding strategies.

It’s certainly also worth adopting the new metrics, and reviewing any scripts you’re running to ensure they’re not average position-dependent.

But, frankly, we don’t see this as anything to be unduly concerned about. After all, it’s been a long time coming and most of the PPC community seems fairly relaxed about the axing of average positions.

However, if you do have any questions, contact Front Page Advantage and we’ll gladly chat through your concerns. Why not see how we’ve helped other clients like you from our case studies.