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Knowing who your competitors are is a top priority for all businesses. If I were to ask most marketers and small business owners, “who are your top competitors?”, they would be able to answer off the top of their head.

Now, are those the same people you are bidding against on Google?

Not always. But it’s easy to find out.

If you use Google Ads (formerly AdWords) for SEM, you can run a simple report for each campaign that gives you very valuable competitive information. It’s called Auction Insights, and it exists in the Google Ads interface under Ad Groups.

What Does Auction Insights Tell You?

The following is a list of metrics available in Auction Insights:

  1. Display URL Domain – this is the competitor.
  2. Impression Share – the number of impressions you received divided by the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive.
  3. Avg. Position – the average position of each advertiser’s ad on the page.
  4. Overlap Rate – how often another advertiser’s ad received an impression in the same auction that your ad also received an impression.
  5. Position Above Rate – how often another advertiser’s ad in the same auction shows in a higher position than your own, when both of your ads were shown at the same time.
  6. Top of Page Rate – how often your ad (or the ad of another advertiser, depending on which row you’re viewing) was shown at the top of the page in search results.
  7. Outranking Share – how often your ad ranked higher in the auction than another advertiser’s ad, or if your ad showed when theirs did not.

How to Use the Auction Insights Report

Like I mentioned earlier, the companies that are bidding against you in paid search are not always the same companies that you might name as your nearest competitors. Therefore, you need a separate understanding of competition when it comes to paid search.

These are the companies that you are competing against when someone is searching for something you offer. And you want to make sure you outwork them.

So much of paid search is about finding the right position, on the right keywords, at the right times. Your competitors are doing the same thing. They have the same goals.

Use the Auction Insights provided by Google to gain a deeper understanding of their strategy, and how it overlaps with yours. You might learn something about who they’re targeting and how much they are willing to pay to show up at the top of the page.

And by looking at the Auction Insights over time, you will better see how the competitive landscape is changing month to month and year to year.