The more aggressive your bids are, the more impression share you own, the more conversions you get. Simple, right? Well, not quite… Let’s start by breaking down what the famous share metrics actually mean!
Here is how Google define these terms:
- Search Impression Share: Impressions you’ve received on the Search Network divided by the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive.
- Impression Share (Top%): percent of your impressions that are shown anywhere above the organic search results
- Click Share: Number of clicks you’ve received on the Search Network divided by the estimated maximum number of clicks that you could have received.
Is it really all about showing on top of the Search Results?
It is hard to deny the impact of standing at one of the top spots on the Google search results. The platform boasts an incredible volume of highly qualified, action-ready customers. This consideration has led to continuous bidding wars as advertisers compete for traffic from their top valued keywords. In this aggressive battle, it can be easy to forget why digital advertising was a revolution: It’s all about targeting, who we show our ads to, and not how many people see it.
Impression share shows how often an ad appears, while click share demonstrates the frequency in which it is clicked. At the end of the day, quality website traffic is what we are after.
Following this philosophy, the plan on one of my accounts has been to create campaigns based on demographics. Each age group and gender was given its own campaign. For example, 64+ females and 18-24 males would both get their own separate campaigns. The result can be seen in the graph below: our advertising cost was cut by a half and our ads garnered more click share.
How is it possible that simply building campaigns around demographics can lead to a 49% decrease cost and a 64% increase in click share all at once. You would think that in a very competitive space, only bidding higher to maximize impression share can lead to a higher click share. In this instance, the exact opposite happened. To explain this rather counterintuitive result, let’s rephrase this blog title in a slightly different way.
Click share vs Impression Share, which one does Google care about?
Google’s number one goal is always going to be revenue. To do so, they will seek to provide users with the most useful, relevant query possible to maximize the chance of a paid click.
The giant’s triumph resides in his ability to successfully match the user intent to specific web pages. Therefore, the success of an advertiser on Google search ultimately depends on their ability to match their ads to the user intent. While keywords are powerful tools for targeting intents, they are only a first step.
Google provides us with countless information about the user that helps us evaluate with more precision what the intent behind a query can be and yellow Ferraris can help us understand how big of a difference this audience information can make.
The Yellow Ferraris (cause really I like them, and I know you do too…)
What is the difference between a 21-year-old, recent graduate, searching “Yellow Ferrari prices” and a 50-year-old, restaurant owner, searching “Yellow Ferrari prices”? The former is probably debating the topic with his friends in a restaurant, while the restaurant owner is actually trying to buy one. Same query, two different intents.
Going beyond keywords and looking at the audience behind the query allows advertisers to better match user intents and ride along Google’s boat, which, guess what, kind of seduces Google. If you are advertising yellow Ferraris, Google will favor you if you only show to high-income earners and could severely penalize you for bothering college students who simply do not care about buying such an expensive car at the moment.
By literally buying impression share, you are moving into irrelevant audiences. By going after click share, you are maximizing on your best audiences. Someone wants a Ferrari, you sell a Ferrari, deal! The user is happy, you are happy, and Google is happy and gives you the top spot you were craving for.
Yes, Google Rewards Effective Advertisers!
When ads are relevant, they get a better click-through rate, which then leads to a higher click share signaling Google that you are doing something right. Only in this situation will Google give you the top spot you deserve. The graph below shows the relationship between click-share, (top) impression share, and click-through rate during the same period of time for the client mentioned earlier.
It can clearly be observed that our impression share skyrocketed. So the final line is: it is not about showing as often as possible, it is about showing to the right person, as often as possible.
Instead of thinking about being on top of the page, we can think about serving the right user, which can be measured with our click share, and then Google will put us on top of the page, which we can see through our top impression share.
This can be done by leveraging all the user data available in Google such as detailed demographics, locations, affinity audiences, in-market audiences and more.
Our PPC Genius, Connor Regan, wrote a blog post that extensively touches on What Google audiences are and how they are determined. In the example mentioned above, the client campaigns were segmented based on demographics targeting: each campaign targeted a dedicated age group and gender. You might find better results segmenting your campaigns by locations for example.
At this point, you probably know to a good extent who your target audience is, so the ball is in your court. Think “relevance”, think “click share” first, and the rest will be given to you. Good luck!