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

Google Ads Auction Insights serves as a valuable tool for advertisers, offering insights into their competitors’ strategies and providing opportunities to surpass them in the market.

By examining the metrics offered by this tool, marketers can make informed choices to enhance their Google Ads campaigns, ultimately boosting 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?

Each time a user searches for one of your keywords, Google conducts an ad auction to determine which ads should appear on the search results page and where they should be placed.

The auction insights report allows marketers to compare the performance of their ad campaigns with other advertisers in the search and shopping ads during 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 a metric in Google Ads Auction Insights that shows the percentage of times your ads were shown compared to the total number of times they were eligible to be shown.

It’s an important measure as it gives insight into how often your ads appear on the search engine results page (SERP) compared to your competitors.

Comparing your impression share with your competitors helps you gauge how often your ads are seen alongside theirs. Higher impression share means better visibility, potentially leading to more clicks and better campaign performance.

To leverage impression share data effectively, follow these steps:

  1. Analyze the impression share of your main competitors to understand your position in the ad space.
  2. Look for trends in impression share, like changes in ad spend or bidding strategies, to adapt your approach based on competitor behavior.

Keep in mind that impression share is closely tied to ad spend. A higher percentage suggests that an advertiser is likely investing more to ensure their ads appear frequently in relevant auctions.

Overlap Rate

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

Overlap Rate indicates the percentage of times a competitor’s ad appeared when yours did. Here’s how to use it effectively:

  1. Keep an eye on Overlap Rate to see which competitors frequently share ad space with you. This insight helps you adjust your targeting and ad copy strategy.
  2. Analyze changes in Overlap Rate to spot shifts in competitor targeting, bids, and ad spending. This proactive approach helps you stay competitive 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.

Outranking Share is a handy metric for gauging the effectiveness of your ad strategy in beating your competitors. Here are some tips for understanding Outranking Share:

  1. Compare your Outranking Share with competitors who spend similar amounts on ads to find areas for enhancement.
  2. Explore the landing pages and ad creatives of competitors with high Outranking Share to learn from their successes and find inspiration 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.

Position Above Rate is a valuable metric for spotting chances to tweak your bids for better rankings above competitors. Here’s how to use Position Above Rate data effectively:

  1. Keep an eye on how your Position Above Rate changes over time to see if your campaign performance and ad position are getting better or worse compared to competitors.
  2. Make adjustments to your bids and strategy to boost your chances of ranking higher than your competitors accordingly.

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.

Staying updated with the Absolute Top of Page metric empowers advertisers to make informed decisions about their bidding strategies and ad quality. Here’s how to leverage this data effectively:

  1. Aim for a higher percentage rate, as being in the first position at the absolute top of the page can significantly boost an ad’s click-through rate (CTR) and return on investment (ROI). If your percentage rate is low, assess your ad strength, bids, and landing pages for relevance.
  2. Monitor the competition’s top-of-page rates to pinpoint new opportunities for strengthening your ad placement on the SERP.

Depending on your budget and strategy, you may opt not to appear in the first position due to its higher cost per click. Positioning in the second or third position at the top of the page might align better with your strategy and budget.

By keeping these metrics in mind, advertisers can identify their campaign’s strengths and weaknesses. They can also evaluate competitors’ strategies and adjust their bidding, ad positioning, and targeting to improve 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?

Businesses of various sizes, whether regional, national, or international, could participate in the ad auction alongside yours. These businesses might not be direct competitors outside of this advertising channel.

If you notice that competitors in your ad auction aren’t relevant to your business, it’s likely that the keywords you’re targeting—or that Google is showing your ads for—are too broad or irrelevant.

Review your search terms report to identify the keywords your ads are appearing for. If you notice many irrelevant search terms, consider removing them from your targeting or setting them as negative keywords to improve the relevance of your ads.

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

The competition may be boosting their campaign budgets, leading to a higher impression share compared to yours. To counter this, leverage the data provided in your auction insights along with other vital metrics from your campaign or ad group, such as the campaign’s value to your business.

This information can help you decide whether to increase your budget for 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 important to handle it strategically. Use your Auction insights data to gauge the potential business they could be drawing by targeting your brand name.

Then, focus on ensuring your ads are optimized specifically for your brand name and not for generic search terms. Ensure your ad highlights unique selling points, promotions, and special offers.

If you’re bidding on your own brand name, it should be set up as its own ‘brand campaign’. Defensive bidding on your own brand name might 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 aim is to spend as little as possible and appear near 100% of brand searchers.

You might also consider responding in kind and bidding on your ‘competitors’ brand names. Assess which competitors share the same target audience as you and whether your offering is preferable from a user’s perspective compared to your competitors.

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

If you can’t increase budgets, begin by examining your competitors’ Google Ads, ad copy, and unique value propositions (USPs). Try to understand their campaign targeting strategies.

Then, concentrate on enhancing your ad copy for relevance and attractiveness compared to your competitors’. Use all available ad extensions to offer information and stand out. Enhance your landing page experience to increase the likelihood of conversions for users who land on your page.

Lastly, consider refining your targeting parameters to reach a more qualified audience. Continuously monitor and analyze performance metrics and auction insights for ongoing improvements.

Key Takeaways

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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