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What’s All the Fuss about Impression Share?

Among the seemingly bazillion things that you could track with your search analytics is yet another one—impression share. Of all the pieces of information that you need to monitor, this one can sometimes get lost in the shuffle. But, it shouldn’t—and here’s why. Impression share can tell you a lot about other very important metrics, namely your budget and bid allocation, your ad rank and your quality score.

A Review—What is Impression Share?

Simply stated, impression share is the percent of impressions that you receive out of the total impressions that you could have received. It’s your “share” of the eligible impressions. This data is available for your keywords, ad groups and campaigns on both the display network and the search network.  In each of these networks, there are 3 or 4 different pieces of data you can obtain, as follows:

  • Impression Share

This is an overall look at the number of impressions you received out of what you could have received. This is available on both the display and search networks.

  • Lost Budget Impression Share

This is the percentage of your ads that did not show because your budget was too low. This is available on both the display and search networks.

  • Lost Rank Impression Share

This is the percentage of your ads that did not show because your ad rank was too low. This is available on both the display and search networks.

  • Exact Match Impression Share

This is the percentage of impressions you received out those possible for exact match searches. This is available on the search network only.

The Lost Budget Impression Share metric can be obtained for campaign-level data. The other metrics can be obtained for keywords and ad groups as well as campaigns.

Why Should You Look at Impression Share?

While impression share in and of itself may be interesting, it is not the ultimate reason to track this analytic. Instead, you should consider your impression share metrics to be valuable barometers that can either confirm you’re on the right track in other areas—or signal problems that you should address. Specifically, poor impression share scores can alert you to issues with your budgets, bids and quality score.

What Can You Do About a Poor Impression Share?

So, if impression share is really a metric that more reflects other metrics than is something of its own, what in the world do you do if it is poor? Well, that depends on which of your impression share metrics is low.

If your Lost Budget Impression Share data is not up to snuff, you should start by taking a good look at your bid and budget strategies. Reallocating bids, increasing budget caps and other actions may be what’s needed. If your Lost Rank Impression Share data is the problem, you should focus on your Quality Score, as that has a direct impact on your ad rank.

Follow the Weather

In a way, you could think of Impression Share data like your weather app. It can help you make decisions that fit a scenario—or tell you when you might want to make changes. Even the best-laid plans can need to change sometimes. SEO, as you know, is never a one-time thing.