The Importance of Impression Share for Your PPC Strategy

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As of late, I find myself constantly evaluating impression share to see how it can be improved and what recommendations I can provide for clients. I find certain metrics handy when asked the following common questions:

1) What PPC budget would be optimal for my campaigns ,

2) What conversion volume can we expect if we were to implement this optimal budget?

To start, let’s go over the basics. What is impression share and what do the specific Impression Share metrics tell me?

Impression Share Definitions

    • Search Impression Share: The impressions you’ve received on the Search Network divided by the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive.
    • Search Exact Match Impression Share: The impressions you’ve received divided by the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive on the Search Network for search terms that matched your keywords exactly (or were close variants of your keyword).
    • Search Lost Impression Share (budget): This is available at the campaign-level only. It measures the percentage of time that your ads weren’t shown on the Search Network due to insufficient budget.
    • Search Lost Impression Share (rank): The percentage of time that your ads weren’t shown on the Search Network due to poor Ad Rank in the auction. Note: This metric will not be displayed at the ad group-level if your budget ran out during the date range selected.


Why is it important?

    Impression share helps to show you the demand on the search engine, the total number of potential impressions you could receive. This metric will show you any missed opportunities and revenue that you stand to gain by altering your PPC strategy.


How do you boost your impression share?

Improve I/S Lost to Budget:

      • The simple solution would be to raise your budgets, but this isn’t always an available option. Other strategies include:
      • Determine which campaigns are most profitable and make sure that they are not limited by budget.
      • Segment data by day of week and time of day. Are there certain days/times that you see little-to-no traffic? Consider implementing an ad schedule or bid modifiers for certain days or times of day.
      • Refine your geo-targeting. Are there geos that are eating up your budget and not converting? Try excluding some geos or implementing modifiers.
      • Consistently review your query reports. Add negatives to exclude unwanted traffic and look for keyword culprits that consistently deliver bad searches.
      • Assess how each device performs and adjust your bidding strategy accordingly. Maybe you can save some spend by lowering bids on desktop or mobile if it doesn’t perform as well.
      • Test delivery settings. If your campaigns are limited by budget, test Standard over Accelerated delivery.


Improve Impression Share Lost to Rank:

      • Improve your quality score. Make sure that your overall structure is as refined as possible. Are keywords grouped by closely knit themes? Does the ad copy reflect the keywords within the ad group? Does the landing page contain content that embodies the keyword theme and ad copy? By boosting relevancy between keywords, ad copy and landing page, you can expect to see great improvements to your quality score.
      • Implement and optimize ad extensions. Are there extensions that you aren’t taking advantage of that could boost your real estate on the SERP? Do you have extensions that are optimized for mobile?
      • Bid optimizations. What is your bid and is it competitive?
      • Review auction insights to see who the competition is. You might have to raise your bids to recapture impression share that is being taken by other advertisers.


How do you determine how many conversions you could get if your Lost Impression Share is 0%?

    • By knowing your impression share, calculate the total number of available impressions. Total Available Impressions = Your Impression Volume / Your Impression Share. For example, if you have 10,000 Impressions and an Impression Share of 40%, the Total Available Impressions = 25,000
    • Taking your CTR and total number of available impressions, you can estimate the total number of clicks you can expect. Clickthrough rate = Clicks / Impressions. If you have a CTR of 5% and total available impressions are 25,000, you can estimate 1,250 clicks.
    • Look at your Conversion Rate and calculate the number of potential conversions. Conversion Rate = Conversions / Clicks. If your potential clicks are 1,250 and your conversion rate is 7%, your potential conversions would be approximately 88 conversions.


How do you use the Lost Impression Share metrics to determine optimal budget for PPC?

    • I’ve been using Lost Impression Share to Budget as a budget modifier. For example, if your Lost I/S to Budget is 80%, multiply your current budget by 1.8. This is typically a good starting point.
    • I also use the Lost Impression Share to Rank as a secondary budget modifier, giving clients a few options depending on what ranking they’re targeting. For example, if the Lost Impression Share to Rank was 60%, I’d show recommended budgets at 1.2 times the current budget (20%), 1.4 times the current budget (40%) and 1.6 times the current budget (60%), from conservative to aggressive.
    • Look at Avg CPCs and Cost/Conv. to gauge potential spend. With the potential click volume (1,250 clicks in our example), what would your spend look like? Consider this figure and leave some room for extra cush in case spend fluctuates.
Brenna Teichen About the author
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