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For nearly the past two decades, the average position metric in Google Ads has been an essential key performance indicator for many users. The chances are if you produce or receive Google Ads reports, then you’ll probably find the metric in there.
As the old saying goes “nothing lasts forever” and unfortunately that saying is also true in this case.
In February of this year, Google announced that it would be removing the average position metric as of this September. Although no specific date has been given yet, we are assuming it will be removed around the start of the month.
Obviously, many Google Ads users aren’t too pleased about this, especially since it’s one of the oldest and most popular metrics. So why did Google remove the metric and what is it being replaced with, if anything?
Luckily we’ve put together a handy article with everything in one place. Here’s everything you need to know about the average position metric being removed from Google Ads.
The average position metric has been an insightful metric that many Google Ads users have grown to love. As you can probably guess from its name, the metric gives you the average position that your ad is being displayed on Google.
An average position of 3 would indicate that on most impressions your ad receives, the ad is being displayed near the top of the page. But it’s important to take the metric with a pinch of salt. Since the figure is an average it doesn’t mean your ad is position 3 for everyone that sees it. It’s possible that on some impressions your ad could be as low as position 6. The metric just tells you the position of most of the impressions you receive.
There are many speculations as to why Google is removing this metric from Google Ads. Google themselves state that the metric is not useful anymore and there are much better metrics (which we’ll discuss later on). Other Google Ads users say that its a move to try and make customers spend more in attempting to hide their true average position.
Whatever the real reason is for removing the metric, there’s nothing that’s going to bring it back. Instead, Google has already announced several new metrics that will provide a much better overview of user’s ads.
In November 2018, Google introduced 2 new metrics which were the “Impression (Absolute Top) Percentage” and “Impression (Top) Percentage”. Both of these metrics help describe what percentage of your ads appear at the top of the page and the absolute top of the page. According to Google, these metrics give you a much clearer view of how well your ad is performing compared to the average position metric.
As you can see from the image above, the absolute top metric basically shows you what % of impressions you rank number 1 for. While the top metric shows the percentage of impressions you rank for between positions 1 – 3. A more detailed explanation for the metrics would be as follows.
This metric is the number of impressions you’ve received in the absolute top location (the very first ad at the top of the page) divided by the total number of impressions. This metric basically gives you a percentage figure of what % of your ads showed up in the number 1 spot.
For example, a figure of 67% would mean that in 67% of the impressions you received, your ad was at the very top of the results.
This metric is calculated by taking all of the impressions you’ve received from ads in the top positions above the organic search results, divided by the number of impressions the ad has received. Similar to the metric above it also gives you a percentage figure of what % of your ads showed up above the organic search results.
For example, a figure of 88% would say that in 88% of the impressions your ad received, your ad was above the organic search results in the top 1 – 3 positions.
The main difference between the two is how the top and the absolute top metric are calculated. The absolute top metric is great for seeing how often you rank position number 1 with your ads. While the top metric is useful for seeing how often you rank above the organic search results. If you consistently don’t rank above the organic search results, then you’ll probably want to increase your bid to get the best exposure.
From taking a close look at how the metrics are calculated, they seem to be a reasonable replacement. But the downside is that you’ll have to include even more metrics on your reports (with explanations) that could easily be displayed with just one (the average position metric).
The benefit of the new metrics is that they don’t rely on averages as much, which means the data won’t be as skewed. With the average position metric, the variance between the average figure and the actual ad positions could vary drastically. But with the new metrics, the figure gives you a percentage of impressions within the top 3 spots, rather than an ad position figure.
Hate or love these new metrics, the average position metric is going and there’s no way to get it back. Unless 3rd party tracking tools introduce some kind of similar metric (which would never be as accurate as Google’s), it’s time to say goodbye to the average position metric. It might have been useful, but it was by no means perfect. Hopefully, Google’s new metrics will be able to show users how well their ads are performing just as good as the average position metric used to.