Life After The Google Ads Average Position Sunset

We waved goodbye to the Google Ads average position metric back in September. This week I started to wonder if I’ve noticed a difference since the old metric was removed. With this in mind, I decided to take a deeper dive into learning about life after the average position metric sunset.

What Was Average Position?

When you hear “average position metric,” you probably rush to some reasonable conclusions about what the metric represented. However, there is a good chance that your logical assumptions are not correct, and this is precisely the reason this metric got put to rest.

The average position metric showed the average of where your ad ranked in relation to the other ads in Google’s ad auction. So if there were three ads in the auction and your metric was 1.2 then you might assume that your ad was averaging a top spot. Well, you’d only be half correct. The problem with this metric is that it ONLY addresses your ranking in relation to the other ads but does NOT take into account where the ads are showing on the page. This means that just because you’re the highest-ranking ad you could still be appearing on the bottom of the SERP. Not very useful, is it?

The New Metric In Town

Luckily for all of us advertisers, Google recognized that the old metric wasn’t helping many people and decided to replace it with some new metrics that make more sense.

The two new metrics, “Impression (Top)%” and “Impression (Absolute Top)%” are a great way to keep track of where your ads actually appear on the SERP. The easiest way to keep this straight is that “Top” is considered all the ads spots above the organic search results. So, you know… the actual top of the page. That’s way more helpful, right? “Absolute Top” is the top spot of the “Top” which translates to the first spot you see above the organic search results.

This picture from Google’s new metric announcement provides a clear visualization of the new metrics:


My Thoughts

As you might imagine, this change has been a considerable improvement. It’s also been somewhat of a stress reliever. Despite the lack of importance with the old metric, a lot of clients cared about it. This meant that time was spent trying to improve a meaningless stat. Now, I’m able to concentrate on improving the ads in ways that are both important to my client’s happiness and important to my client’s success.

With that in mind, there are still some who were used to seeing the old metric and still wish I could provide them with a clear 1.2 average as opposed to a 75% absolute top percentage. This is nothing new. Much like everything else, change can be scary to some, but I’m confident this won’t be a long-term problem.

What Others Are Saying

Our friends at WordStream view this move as a push by Google to emphasize their automated bidding strategies, “Because the goal of automated strategies is to get your ad wherever it has the best chance to convert—versus owning the top of the SERP—I think this decision reiterates the shift to automation and away from AdWords.”

This sentiment seems to be felt throughout the industry, but I’m not sure this will mean anything to our clients because this industry shift has been going on for a long time and will continue to go on regardless of the introduction and elimination of specific metrics. In other words, the decisions that marketers are making will probably not be all that different, but they should be better informed.

Read more: