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Search Impression Share: What Is It & How Can I Improve It?

by Freya Carberry

Aug 11, 2023

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When using Google Ads to track your campaign performance, you may have come across the ‘search impression share’ column and wondered what it means. Getting to know this small but mighty metric is invaluable when assessing whether your campaign is living up to its potential. 

Read on as we explore how tracking and improving your search impression share can help your campaign pack the biggest punch: 

What Is Search Impression Share?

Every time your ad is shown on a Google search results page (or on another page within the Google network), it’s counted as an impression. In simple terms, impressions = views. Your search impression share (IS) is calculated as a percentage, showing the number of impressions your ad receives compared to the number of impressions that your ad could have received. 

Impression share (IS) = impressions ÷ total eligible impressions

What are the total eligible impressions? These are all the auctions that your ad would have been eligible for (due to quality and relevancy) if it had a reasonably higher bid. The key word here is reasonably higherit will count auctions where your ad could have shown with a 2% bid increase, but it won’t count auctions where your ad would have needed a 2000% bid increase to show. 

What Other Search Impression Share Metrics Are There? 

Another metric to look at in your Google Shopping campaigns is absolute top impression share (ATIS) – this is the percentage of your Shopping ads that are shown in the most visible position (aka the absolute top) in the results. 

Absolute top impression share (ATIS) = absolute top impressions ÷ total eligible top impressions

By tracking absolute top impression share in your Shopping campaigns, you can see whether your ad would show in a more prominent position with an increased bid or budget. This is a great way to get a sense of your overall prominence when users are searching for similar products. 

Another handy metric to get to grips with is the ‘exact match impression share’, which compares the impressions your ad received to the number of impressions it was eligible to receive for searches that exactly matched your keywords. This is really helpful for evaluating and refining your keywords to make them more relevant. 

Why Track Search Impression Share? 

Measuring impression share helps you understand whether your ads might reach more people with an increased bid or budget. Essentially, search impression share indicates whether your ad performance is meeting its potential, or if it could be having more of an impact

Ways To Improve Impression Share

To increase impression share, your ads need to appear more often, and in more places. To achieve this, you can:

  • Increase campaign budget: The budget controls how often your ad is shown. If your campaign has a low budget, your ad won’t be shown as many times as it could be, resulting in a lower impression share. The search lost IS (budget) column in Google Ads shows you what percentage of impressions you’re missing out on due to budget restrictions. If you’re seeing a high percentage here, it’s a strong indicator that an increased budget would improve your ad’s performance. 
  • Increase bids: Increasing individual bids gives your ads a better chance of being served for particular ad auctions.
  • Improve ad quality: You can improve your ad quality by increasing relevancy and optimising your landing pages. High-quality ads will perform better in searches and generally have better positions. Checking the search lost IS (rank) column will let you know if low-ranking ads are limiting your performance. 
  • Decrease regional targets: Remember, your impression share is relative to the available impressions for your targeted audience. If your regional targets are wide but your budget is small, then your ad’s actual impressions will be low compared to its potential impressions. However, decreasing the region your ad can show for will lower the number of possible impressions. Just remember that decreasing regional targets could also give you a lower number of impressions overall! 
  • Set a target impression share – Using ‘target impression share’ as your automated bidding strategy means Google will set bids with your goal impression share in mind. 

Improving Absolute Top Impression Share 

One of the best ways to improve your ATIS in Shopping campaigns is increasing your campaign budgets and bids as suggested above. In addition to this, improving your product data will have a positive effect on your ad quality. You can do this by using high-quality images, including important product attributes in titles, and ensuring that product price and availability are up to date in the merchant centre

Do you want to get your Google Ads in front of more people? Get in touch with Peaky Digital!

Our specialist PPC team will analyse a range of metrics to keep your ads working hard. We’re here to help – get in touch today.

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