Since Google Ads (formerly called Adwords) launched, the average position metric has been a key performance indicator for many marketers. If you produce or receive Google Ads reports, then you’ve probably seen this metric.
But, as of today, 30 September, Google Ads is sunsetting the metric. Since it’s one of the oldest and most popular metrics among users, we thought we’d brief you on the update. Here’s everything you need to know about the change.
Why average position is no longer useful
Average position tells users how their ad typically ranks when it’s triggered by one of a user’s keywords. Historically, this metric was useful because ads typically showed up in consistent locations on a search result page. By knowing the average position of an ad, a user could know where that ad would likely show on an SRP, and they could rely on this metric to get an idea of how often their ads beat other ads for a position.
As more ad slots, new formats, and different locations on Google SRPs became available, average position’s meaning—and usefulness—became muddled. While it continued to reflect an ad’s rank compared to all others, it became less and less clear what that position actually equated to in terms of a location on the page. More accurately, average position reflected an ad’s relative position compared to other advertisers and had nothing to do with where the ad actually showed up on the page.
What metrics will replace average position?
In November 2018, Google Ads introduced two new metrics: Impression (Absolute Top) Percentage and Impression (Top) Percentage. These new metrics describe what percent of your ads appear at the top of the page and the absolute top of the page. Together, they give advertisers a much clearer view of an ads’ prominence on a page than average position does.
As you can see from the image above, the absolute top metric shows what percent of impressions an ad ranks number one for. While the top metric shows the percentage of impressions an ad ranks for between positions one and three.
What do these new metrics really mean?
Although you’ll have to include more metrics in your ad reports once average position is removed, the two new metrics appear to be a reasonable replacement. 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. And neither rely on averages as much, so your data won’t be as skewed.
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.