Average ad position is the latest of Google’s performance metrics to be dropped from the Google Ads interface. At BIG, we’ve given our thoughts on this update as we prepare to say goodbye to the familiar column that has been a mainstay of Google Ads for over 15 years.

Google Announcement

Google announced on 26th of February that it would be sunsetting the commonly featured metric and that advertisers can expect to no longer see average position as a column option from September of this year.

So, how will this change impact ad performance? Surely advertisers need to know that their ads are hitting that elusive top spot for all of those important searches?

With the shifting nature of Google’s search engine results page layout, including the removal of right-hand rail ads back in 2016, average position has become increasingly sketchy as a valid measurement of ad location and prominence.

Understanding Google Ads Average Position

An average ad position of 1 sounds great on paper, but in reality, Google doesn’t always necessarily show an ad at the top of the results. This means that the first ad (i.e. position 1) could be buried at the foot of the page beneath the organic listings.

This shift in understanding of average position could be quite problematic for some. But it may also provide an explanation for lower click-through rate (CTR) campaigns for advertisers who incorrectly believe that they’re dominating the top spot for the keywords relevant to their target audience.

New Google Ads Metrics

The first indication that average position was on its way out came back in November 2018, when Google announced 4 new performance metrics that would provide clarification on the positioning of ads:

  • Impressions (Absolute Top) %
  • Impressions (Top) %
  • Search (Absolute Top) Impression Share
  • Search (Top) Impression Share


Image credit: Google

Impressions (Absolute Top) % is perhaps the most significant and is what most people think of as ad position 1. This metric tells you the % of impressions that your ads are receiving in the first ad spot above the organic results. Impressions (Absolute Top) % offers a far more transparent overview of how your ad copy is working for you when your ads are the first thing that a user will see at the top of the results.

Impression Share (IS) metrics offer insight into the opportunities to dial up the share of impressions that your ads are receiving in those top (or absolute top) positions.

Google is recommending that advertisers start to fold these new metrics into their account management strategies to develop a clearer understanding of ad prominence going forward ahead of the September phase out.

Of course, it will be sad to see one of the historical Google Ads columns disappear later this year. But as Google Ads has developed over the last year, the average ad position metric has become defunct; simply recording where your ad appeared vs. other ads, rather than the location of the ad itself.

Google’s new metrics offer a reliable indicator of the positioning and location of your ads in search results. This will allow smarter decision making about ad copy and a deeper understanding of overall account performance.

Speak to a PPC expert

Do you need help with managing your Google Ads account? Speak to our PPC team at BIG Partnership about how we can help you reach your advertising objectives online. Get in touch here.

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