What Is Impression Share In Google Ads?

Impression Share

Impression Share: The Google Ad Hierarchy 

In 2022, the secret formula to your Google Ad campaign is to focus on your Impression Share

Impression Share is the percentage of impressions your ad actually received compared to how many impressions it could have received. 

The higher the number the better. 

If your impression share is 100% (which is almost impossible on non-branded terms) that means your ad showed for every search query that was related to your keywords.

As an SEM specialist, increasing impression share is an easy way to start getting more impressions, clicks, traffic, and conversions to your campaign for the same cost. 

Part of my weekly ad campaign checks includes looking at impression share and my client’s Ad Hierarchy. 

The Google Ad Hierarchy

To be honest, I made this term up but it helps me visualize this optimization strategy better. 

Google Ads decide which ad between you and your competitors will display for a specific search query. 

On top of that, the algorithm has to decide in a split second. 

Also, it decides who gets the top of page placement, this is the most valuable place to be. 

So how do you know how to increase your impression share? 

Here is the hierarchy I have discovered through campaign optimizations and speaking to representatives at Google directly:

Keywords > Budget > Ad Strength > Audience > Past Search History or Intent 

Keywords

Obviously within a Search Engine Marketing platform, the actual keyword searches would play a part in your performance, right? 

The more specific your keywords are, the more qualified leads you will get. 

Having a lot of “long-tail” keywords, or keywords with 3 or more words, will get you better results but most likely less results.

To drive up traffic and conversions you can utilize single-word keywords or two-word keywords. 

The idea is to find the perfect balance between these keywords, so you get enough traffic and qualified leads. 

Specifically for the B2B industry, I would recommend using only long-tail keywords for your SEM campaign. 

There is also a very important rule to not overlap keywords within different ad groups or campaigns if you are targeting the same audience. 

This would cause internal bidding, where your cost per click would rise because you have to outbid yourself.

Essentially, creating another competitor bidding on the same keywords. 

The first step in the Google Ad hierarchy is to select the most relevant keywords for your campaign. 

If you have been running a campaign for a while go through your “Search Terms” to see the actual search queries that your ad appeared for. 

Make sure to vet these to keep only relevant keywords active.

Budget 

The second factor into your Google Hierarchy is your budget. 

In the marketing space where companies bid on ad placements, typically the highest bid wins. 

So how do you compete with the giants in your industry? 

If you are noticing a lower impression share, this might be from your budget. 

There are two ways to check if your budget is hurting your impression share. 

The first way is that Google will put a status on your campaign of “Limited by budget”. 

This means you could get more conversions by raising your budget.

The other way is just to check yourself.

Within the ‘Campaigns’ tab, navigate to ‘Columns’ then ‘Modify Columns’ and add ‘Search Lost IS (Budget)’.

This will show you how much impression share you lost from your budget being too low. 

Here, the lower the number the better. 

Make sure, if your budget allows it, you are competitively priced in your advertising campaigns.

Ad Strength

The third factor to your Google Ad hierarchy is your Ad Strength. 

To sum it up, the more defined and specified your ad copy is, the higher your ad strength will be. 

You should separate your campaign into different ad groups.

Each ad group should target different keywords or audiences. 

This gives you more control over the performance of the campaign. 

Google has a very helpful tool while creating or editing your ads that tell you the Ad Strength. 

All of your ads should be at an ‘Excellent’ Ad Strength. 

You can check to see how many impressions you have lost due to a lower Ad Strength in the ‘Campaigns’ tab.

Navigate to ‘Columns’ then ‘Modify Columns’ and add ‘Search Lost IS (Rank)’.

This will show you how many impressions you lost because your Ad Strength was not at an ‘Excellent’ rating. 

The lower the number the better. 

If you are having trouble achieving ‘Excellent’ status, a quick tip would be to add Ad Extensions to each of your ads. 

This gives Google more opportunities to display your ads. 

Also, it lets your ad take up more space on the search result, which will give you more eyes on your ad.

More eyes on your ad mean more clicks and conversions. 

Audience

As I stated previously, your ad groups and audiences play a big role in your impression share. 

Segmenting your audience, allows you to use more specific language in your ads. 

The more specific you can get, the more likely you will be the top spot in a search query. 

Remember, Google is trying to be the best search engine for its users. 

Showing exactly what the user is looking for is Google’s mission. 

So being specific will help your chances of improved performance. 

The general rule of thumb is to have 3-5 ad groups for each campaign, and within each ad group, there should be 3-5 different ad variations.

Your messaging to your female audience should be different from your male audience.

The ad messaging for your elderly audience should be different from your younger audience.

If you give the Google user the exact ad they are looking for, your ad will increase impression share and out-bid your competitors. 

Past Search History or Intent

The last factor that goes into if your ad will win the top-of-page bid is the user’s past search history or current intent. 

Speaking to representatives at Google, we have determined using the Google Display Network (GDN) can improve your search campaign performance. 

For example, let’s say a user is in the consideration phase of their funnel and they happen to find your website organically and start reading your blog.

Now they are entering their conversion phase and looking to buy what you sell. 

Since they have already been to your site, when they type into Google, looking for a product or service you sell, more likely you will win the top page bid.

“Oh, I have heard of this company before”.

Growing trust is what marketing is all about and this goes into your impression share.

That is why brand awareness campaigns are so important. 

Specifically, utilizing brand awareness campaigns within GDN. 

This keeps all the browser data within the Google Ad platform and allows you to increase your impression share.

If Google shows your display ad to a single user several times, then if they happen to search for your product, most likely your search or shopping campaign will win the top bid for that user. 

At Cordelia Labs, we have seen performance increases in search campaigns just by adding a GDN campaign. 

Typically for display ads, we will use a Programmatic partner which typically gets us more impressions and clicks, but at a lower conversion rate. 

This happens because Programmatic partners have access to more DSPs and inventory.

Since Google can’t see the Programmatic data, the platform cannot leverage the impressions to help your search campaign performance. 

Conclusion

On my desk, in my office, I have a copy of this hierarchy and it keeps me busy each week.

The whole idea of impression share is that you can maximize your conversions for your campaigns. 

Google gives many tools to help you succeed but if you don’t know where to look you will be at a disadvantage. 

Hopefully, this article helps you improve your campaign performance, but if you are still struggling to see higher ROAS I can help.

Feel free to reach out to Cordelia Labs for a discovery call you won’t hate and possibly bring us on as your paid media partner.

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