One of the most insightful features Google AdWords has released is the Auction Insights tool. This feature allows advertisers to see:
1) The impression share they are receiving on a given keyword, ad group, or campaign (percentage of impressions they are receiving divided by the total number of possible impressions available)
2) Top of page rate (the number of times an advertiser’s ads appear in one of the top-of-page ad positions divided by the total number of impressions they received)
3) Overlap Rate (the amount of times a competitor’s ad appeared when your ad appeared divided by the number of impressions your ad received)
4) Average Position.
This is a powerful tool for advertisers because it helps us understand how competition has changed when we see a peak or dip in performance. Advertisers are often dumbfounded when leads, orders, subscriptions, etc. plummet during a period when they expected better performance. After a deep analysis of their AdWords account they are still sometimes left with no solid answer. With Auction Insights you can add another important variable to your analysis: The Competition.
Let’s say I am advertising on ‘blue jeans’ and generating $10,000 per month on that keyword, but suddenly in August sales dip down to just $2,000 per month. I can view the Auction Insights for that keyword in August, take a look at who is competing, and how aggressive they are bidding (based on top of page rate, avg. position, and impression share). The next step would be to toggle with the date ranges and take a look at past months or weeks. What did the competition look like back then? Are there new advertisers? Is a certain advertiser bidding more aggressively?
I have personally turned a client relationship around using analysis from this tool. The client was frustrated about the large decrease in conversion rates, which weren’t being explained by seasonality, bid changes, budgets or search queries. When I took a look at a few different date ranges in Auction Insights, boom! The answer was right there. The brand, whose brand keywords we were advertising on, started doubling down on their AdWords spend. They had always been advertising, but conservatively. At a certain point it looks like they ramped up their bids and budgets. Providing the client that knowledge was much appreciated and helped get him some closure on a lingering issue.
Since competition is one of the most important variables in PPC performance, Auction Insights is one of the first tools, if not the first tool, that an advertiser should look at when conducting a performance analysis. Now go back and answer that question that you were never able to answer before!