How to Use Google Ads Auction Insights: Defeat Your Competitors with Confidence

Google Ads Auction Insights is a powerful tool to help advertisers gain valuable insights into their competitors’ tactics, enabling them an opportunity to outperform their rivals in the market.

By analysing the metrics provided by this tool, marketers can make informed decisions to improve their Google Ads campaigns and ultimately increase their return on investment.

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What can you learn from the Auction Insights Report

The data provided by the auction insights report can help you answer a number of questions:

  • Who are all of your Ad Auction competitors?
  • How often are your ads showing vs your competitors?
  • How many competitors are bidding on our brand name?
  • Are new competitors appearing in the Ad Auction?

To get answers to these types of question, you must understand the data you are looking at. Let’s break down the data available and how you can draw insights and actions out of each.

What is Auction Insights for Google Ads?

Every time a user performs a search for one of your keywords, Google runs an ad auction in the background to determine which ads serve and where on the search results page they should appear.

The auction insights report helps marketers compare the performance of their ad campaigns against the other advertisers in the search and shopping ads in that ad auction.

Auction Insights is available for:

  • Google search campaigns
  • Google Shopping campaigns
  • Performance Max campaigns

Auction insights can be found at each of the following levels:

  • Campaign
  • Ad Groups
  • Individual Keyword

You can see six data points in each Auction Insights report. These are:

  • Impression share
  • Overlap rate
  • Outranking share
  • Position above rate
  • Top-of-page rate
  • Absolute top-of-page rate

How to Access Auction Insights in Google Ads

To access the Google Ads Auction Insights Report, follow these steps:

    1. Log in to your Google Ads account and navigate to the ‘Campaigns’, ‘Ad Groups’, or ‘Keywords’ tab, depending on the level of detail you wish to view.
    2. Select the campaigns, ad groups, or keywords for which you want to see the auction insights.
    3. Click on ‘More’ in the toolbar, and then select ‘Auction Insights’ from the drop-down menu.

Tips to Effectively Utilise Ads Auction Insights Report Data

Impression Share

Impression share is the number of impressions you received divided by the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive.

It is a key metric in Google Ads Auction Insights that provides valuable insights into you and your competitors’ presence on the SERP.

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By comparing your impression share with your competitors, you can understand how frequently your ad campaigns appear alongside theirs. Higher impression share indicates better visibility, leading to improved performance and the potential for higher click-through rates.

To make the most out of the information provided by impression share data, consider the following steps:

  • Analyse the impression share of your top competitors to understand who you are competing against in your ad space.
  • Identify trends and patterns in impression share, such as fluctuations in ad spend or changes in bids, to gain insights into competitor behaviour and adjust your strategy accordingly.

Keep in mind – This metric can be heavily related to ad spend, the higher the percentage, the more likely an advertiser is spending a higher amount for their ads to show in most of the auctions they are eligible to show in.

Overlap Rate

Overlap Rate offers valuable insights into the commonality between your ads and your competitors’ ads on the SERP.

This metric represents the percentage of times a competitor’s ad showed when your ad also showed. To effectively utilise Overlap Rate, keep these in mind:

  • Monitor Overlap Rate to understand which competitors you share ad space with the most frequently, helping you refine your targeting and ad copy strategy.
  • Analyse fluctuations in Overlap Rate to identify potential changes in competitor targeting, bids, and ad spend, allowing you to respond proactively and maintain a competitive edge in your Google Ads campaign.

Outranking Share

Outranking Share is a metric that shows the percentage of times your ad ranked higher than a competitor’s ad in the same auction or when your ad showed and theirs didn’t.

This can be useful for determining how well your current ad strategy is performing in outranking your competition. When interpreting Outranking Share, consider the following:

  • Review Outranking Share against competitors with similar ad spend to identify opportunities for improvement.
  • Investigate the landing pages and ad creatives of competitors with high Outranking Share to identify any best practices or opportunities for your own campaigns.

Position Above Rate

Position Above Rate in the Auction Insights report measures the percentage of times another advertiser’s ad appears above your own.

This metric can help you identify opportunities to adjust your bids to rank higher and more consistently above your competition. Consider these points when utilising Position Above Rate data:

  • Monitor how your Position Above Rate trends change over time, indicating whether your campaign performance and ad position are improving or declining compared to your competitors.
  • Adjust your bids and strategy accordingly to increase your chances of ranking higher than your competition.

Top of Page Rate

Top of page rate indicates the percentage of times an ad appeared at the top of the search engine results page (SERP) compared to the total number of impressions it had.

Understanding top-of-page rate, alongside absolute top-of-page rate, allows businesses to optimise their campaigns for better visibility and overall ad success. Consider this point when utilising Top of Page Rate data:

  • The higher your percentage here the better. If you are seeing a low percentage here evaluate your ad strength, your bids and your keyword quality.

Absolute top-of-page rate

Absolute top of page rate is the percentage of times an ad appeared in the very first ad position of the SERP compared to its total number of impressions.

By staying up-to-date with this metric, advertisers can make informed decisions on their bidding strategies and ad quality. Consider this point when utilising the Absolute top of page data:

  • Generally, the higher the percentage rate here the better. Being in 1st position at the absolute top of the page can significantly impact an ad’s click-through rate (CTR) and return on investment (ROI). If you are seeing a low percentage rate here, evaluate your ad strength, your bids and landing pages for relevance.
  • Monitor the trends of the competition top of page rates, tracking this information can help pinpoint new opportunities to strengthen your ad placement on the SERP.

Depending on your budget and strategy, you may not wish to appear in 1st position as it has a higher cost per click. Appearing in the 2nd or 3rd position at the top of page may suit your strategy and budget better.

Keeping these metrics in mind will allow advertisers to identify their strengths and weaknesses in their ad campaigns. Moreover, they can evaluate their competitor’s strategies and adjust their bidding, ad positioning, and overall targeting to enhance their SERP rankings.

4 Common Examples Of Auction Insights Data Usage

The 6 data points outlined above give valuable insights into your campaigns, ad groups and keywords.

Let’s take a look at a few common examples that you could face when reviewing your auction insights reports and ways you can utilise the data and inform your strategy.

Example 1: The competitors listed are not my direct business competitors?

Many different-sized businesses could be competing in the ad auction, they may be regional, national or international businesses competing. They simply may not be competitors that you have identified as ‘direct’ competitors outside of this ad channel.

If the competition in your ad auction is definitely not competing for your business, there is a high chance the keywords you are targeting (or Google is showing you for) are too broad or simply irrelevant.Β 

Review your search terms report to see what keywords you are showing for. If you see many search terms that are not relevant to your business, you may want to remove them from your targeting or even set them as negative keywords.

Example 2: I can see my competition’s impression share has been increasing month over month – are they increasing budget?

It is likely the competition is increasing the budget for their campaigns and that is resulting in increased impression share vs your campaigns.

Use the data available in your auction insights combined with other key metrics from the campaign or ad group eg, the value of that campaign to your business to inform your own budget increase in these campaigns.

Example 3: A lot of my competitors are bidding on my brand name – How do I respond?

When competitors bid on your brand name in Google Ads, it’s crucial to respond strategically. Use your Auction insights data to assess how much business they could be gaining by targeting your brand name.

Next, focus on ensuring your ads are actually optimised for your brand name and not another generic search term. Make sure your ad highlights unique selling points, promotions, and special offers.

If you are bidding on your own brand name, it should be set up as its own ‘brand campaign’. Defensive bidding on your own brand name may be necessary to maintain a top position in search results.

Consider setting the campaign goal to ‘impression share’. When bidding on your own brand name the goal is to spend as little as possible and appear near 100% of brand searchers.

You may then consider responding in like and bid on your ‘competitors’ brand names. Make an assessment of what competitors have the same target audience as you and whether your offering is worth choosing from a user’s point of view, over your competitors.

Example 4: I simply can’t increase my budget anymore! How else can I improve my ad performance over the competition?

If increasing budgets isn’t an option, start by reviewing all your competitor’s Google Ads, ad copy, and unique value proposition (USPs). Try and understand how are they targeting their campaigns.Β 

Then, focus on optimising your ad copy for relevance and appeal vs your competitor’s. Utilise all ad extensions available to provide information and stand out as much as possible. Improve your landing page experience to ensure the users that do land are likely to convert.

Finally, consider refining your targeting parameters to reach a more qualified audience. Lastly, closely monitor and analyze performance metrics and auction Insights for ongoing refinement.

About the Author

Director and Founder at Firewire Digital. Brogan has over a decade of experience in eCommerce, SEO and Google Ads. Leading his team and clients to success on every project, Brogan is obsessed with achieving solid ROI and creating long-lasting client relationships.

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