What Is The Impression Share Metric & Should You Care?

Recently, I did some work for a large company that was mainly focussed on the impression share of their Google Ads campaigns.

Their main goal was not getting conversions, but they wanted to reach a certain percentage of impression share for each of the keywords on their account.

A rather unusual goal, as most of the campaigns that I manage, are focussed on maximizing conversions. This company wanted to focus primarily on impression share and used their search campaigns purely for branding purposes.

What is the impression share metric?

Impression share is the “percentage of impressions that your ads receive compared to the total number of impressions that your ads could get.”

Explanation of impression share in Google Ads.

How is the impression share calculated?

Impression share = impressions / total eligible impressions.

Depending on the match type of each keyword, your keyword could be triggered for certain search queries.

Google looks at the number of searches your keywords could be triggered for. Then, Google divides this by the number of searches that your ad actually got shown for. To do this, Google also looks at the negative keywords on your account.

So your impression share is mainly depending on how you structure your account and the keywords that you use. If you use a lot of broad match keywords (which I wouldn’t recommend) you will be eligible for more searches. You’re likely to have a lower impression share.

However, if you set up a good keyword list in Google Ads with mainly exact match keywords and/or have a extensive negative keyword list you stay in full control of when your ad is being shown. This will have a positive impact on your search impression share.

Other things you could think about to improve your impression share are:

  • Change your location targeting. Targeting a smaller location will make you eligible for fewer searches.
  • Change your device targeting. Turning off mobile devices will also reduce your eligible searches.
  • Improve your Quality Score. This will reduce your cost-per-click which will make you be able to compete in more auctions (considering your impression share is limited by budget)
  • Lower your bids. Rather than focusing on top rankings for each keyword, you can lower your bids so that you will be able to compete in more ad auctions.
  • Use an ad schedule. Turning your ads off on certain times (for example, outside office hours) will make it easier to be shown for searches during times your ads are on.

Should you care about this metric?

I don’t believe Impression Share should be the main goal of your search advertising campaigns. Google Ads is best when being used as a performance marketing tool, and by focusing primarily on Impression Share you will be using it as a branding tool. There are better tools for this (think about Youtube Ads or Google Display advertising for example).

Having said that, it is an interesting metric to look at when optimising your campaigns. Especially, metrics like Search Lost IS (budget) & Search Lost IS (rank).

By looking at the Search Lost IS (budget) you can indicate how many impressions you lost because of limitations in the budget. If your campaigns are currently profitable this might be an indication that you’d like to increase your budget.

Also, the Search Lost IS (rank) will show how many impressions you lost because of a low ranking. This might indicate that you’re not bidding high enough and are losing too many ad auctions.

To sum up, Search Impression Share is one of the many metrics you can look at when optimising your campaigns. However, it shouldn’t be the main goal of your campaigns.

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By Jeroen

Having worked as a PPC freelancer for many years, Jeroen helps businesses to get more results out of their online advertising budgets.

He is the founder of Vazooky Digital, a Google Ads agency in Sydney, Australia.

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