Google to Sunset Average Position and What It Means For Auto Advertising

Narumi Takagi, Director of Customer Operations

Crystal Wong, Director of Marketing

September 27, 2019

The countdown to the removal of the Google Ads metric, average position, has begun. One of the oldest metrics is no longer being supported on the advertising platform, and advertisers are now looking for an alternative to what was the primary metric for making optimization decisions. To recap, here’s what average position is and why Google is getting rid of it.

What is average position and why is Google getting rid of it?

Average position is a metric that determines which order ads appear on Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs).

As search advertising evolves over time, Google claims the metric has become less valuable for performance measure, which is why average position will no longer be supported in Google Ads. However, in light of the removal of this metric, Google has introduced new metrics that pertain to auction performance and SERP visibility:

  1. Search top impression rate “Impr. (Top) %” is the percent of your ad impressions that are shown anywhere above the organic search results.
  2. Search absolute top impression rate “Impr. (Abs. Top) %” is the percent of your ad impressions that are shown as the very first ad above the organic search results.

There are also metrics you can use to understand opportunities to get more impressions at the top of the SERP such as:

  1. Search absolute top impression share “Search abs. Top IS” is the impressions you’ve received in the absolute top location (the very first ad above the organic search results) divided by the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive in the top location.
  2. Search top impression share “Search top IS” is the impressions you’ve received in the top location (anywhere above the organic search results) divided by the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive in the top location.

Unlike average position, these metrics don’t reflect the order of your ads compared to other ads, but the actual location of your ads on the SERPs. Google Ads product manager Pallavi Naresh believes that these metrics will give a much clearer view of prominence on the page than average position does and a much clearer view of how a campaign is performing.

How does this change affect advertising at auto dealerships?

Because Paid Search is a constantly evolving method of advertising, Google is trying to adapt to these changes and offer advertisers better metrics that can help them understand their advertising efforts better.

We’re expecting the sunset of average position to impact everyone who is advertising with Google, including automotive. So how does this change affect advertising at auto dealerships? We can’t say for certain yet how these changes will impact advertising at your dealership, but what we do know is that these changes will likely affect your advertising. The only options right now are to ride out the removal of average position and to familiarize ourselves with the new metrics.

Just like how advertisers in other industries learn to become more familiar with Impr. (Top) % and Impr. (Abs. Top) %, we’ll be doing the same on our end and continue to monitor campaign performances and provide updates as they become available.