Google Sunsetting Average Position Metric
Google recently announced that the average position metric will be sunset in September 2019; claiming that the metric is not intended to reflect where ads are showing in the SERPs.
Late last year, Google introduced four new metrics known as Prominence Metrics which we believe will essentially replace the average position reporting metric. These metrics are,
To get ahead of this transition, PMG will begin pulling the new Prominence Metrics on a daily basis into the agency’s data warehouse as part of our core data that we offer clients.
When assessing the importance of these metrics holistically, they do seem to provide more insight into positioning and may prove to be more useful for branding purposes. In announcing the deprecation of average position, Google reiterated that the metric only shows an ad’s position in relation to other ads, not necessarily if it shows above organic results or at the absolute top of the page.
Early think pieces point to shifting away from position-based bidding and toward Google’s automated bidding strategies, namely, target CPA and target ROAS for results-driven campaigns and target impression share for branding efforts.
The removal of a historic metric that has been the backbone of many bidding strategies may make relying on Google’s black box of automation and machine learning seem more alluring. We believe that advertisers should continue to leverage the data that supports their goals without fully handing over the reins. As with any other major announcement from Google, once the initial furor subsides, we will adapt, test, and implement new best practices in the ever-changing digital landscape.
For a top-of-mind example, brands concerned with brand safety and maintaining position one above resellers can bid to the Absolute Top Impression while dictating that their resellers bid to Top Impressions. However, the responsibility will be on advertisers to check their Auction Insights regularly to ensure that their expectations meet the reality of their bidding results.
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“With paid results, organic results, the knowledge panel, and Google Maps…the Google Search Results Page is becoming more of a branded home page experience,” said Clay Schulenburg, SEM Director at PMG. “At the end of the day, brands still want reach, share of voice, and engagement with their ads, regardless of their business model, and removing the average position metric doesn’t change that objective. Smart advertisers will lean in like they always do.”