Google Ads Auction Insights Explained

The topic for this post is Auction Insights. So what are Auction Insights? They’re reports in your Google Ads account that let you compare your performance to the advertisers you are competing against. Insights are available for Search and Shopping campaigns. You get to see who your competitors are and how you stack up to them in 6 different metrics for search and 3 metrics for shopping.

Those are Impression share, Overlap rate, position above rate, top of page rate, absolute top of page rate, and Outranking share for search, and impression share, overlap rate and outranking share for shopping campaigns. I’ll go through what each of these metrics are measuring and how you might use them in optimizing your campaigns.

Auction Insights are provided at the account level, the campaign level, the ad group level, and the keyword level.

We’ll start with a campaign level example. Check the box to select your campaign. The blue bar at the top will appear with your options. Here you will click Auction Insights.

This is a screen capture of a Google Ads account on the campaign page selecting a campaign to check the auction insights.

Display URL Domain

Here are the results. The first column is Display URL domain. These are the URL’s you are competing against. You’ll see your account listed as YOU. I assume Google is attempting to avoid confusion here.

In this campaign the results are ranked by impression share. As you can see there is a lot of competition, but only 8 advertisers with more than a 10% search impression share.

The impression share is the percentage of the time you showed up in search results. If there were 100 times you were eligible to show up in results, and you showed up 31 times, that’s a 31 percent share. In this case the number 1 competitor has a 56.76% share, making him the leader by a wide margin. The number 3 competitor has a 27% share, close to ours. Then the competition drops under the 20% share range.

The other 5 columns are going to help determine what adjustments if any we should make. We’ll take these in order from left to right.

Overlap Rate

screen capture of the Overlap Rate column in Google Ads Auction Insights

The overlap rate is the percentage of the time that your competitor showed up in the same search result as you. Our number 1 competitor showed up nearly 70% of the time. Our number 2 competitor only showed up a little over 30% of the time.

The rest of the competition crosses paths here and there, but it appears they are secondary competitors instead of primary competitors. Their geographic targeting may be different, with some overlapping areas that has their ads competing with ours.

Position Above Rate

screen capture of the Google Ads Auction Insights with Position Above Rate column highlighted.

The Position Above Rate column tells us the percentage of the time our competitors ad appeared above our ad when we appeared in the same search. Our #1 competitor is above us about 65% of the time. Our number 2 competitor is above us 50% of the time. As we scan down the list we see the numbers fluctuate up and down.

That is until we get down to this one at 89%. They appear against us less than 10% of the time, so that probably isn’t a big deal. It’s likely they are bidding for the top of the page and showing their ads less frequently.

Top Of Page Rate

screen capture of Top of Page Rate in Google Ads Auction Insights

Here is the Top of Page rate. This is the percentage of time your ad appeared above the organic results. It can be in any position from 1st through 4th. Our number 1 competitor is actually a couple of percentage points below us for this metric, while our number 2 competitor is well above us.

The percentages fluctuate wildly as we go down the page, but the competitor that ranked above us also has a high percentage of the time at the top of the page.

Absolute Top Of Page Rate

screen capture for absolute top of page rate

The Absolute Top Of Page Rate is just what it sounds like, your ad is in the #1 position. Notice that none of the top 10 by impression share get much higher than 25% of the time at the top of the page. In a competitive category being number 1 can be prohibitively expensive.

Outranking Share

screen capture of outranking share

Our last column is the outranking share. Google defines it as: “Outranking share” is how often your ad ranked higher in the auction than another advertiser’s ad, or if your ad showed when theirs did not.”

The problem with this metric is it has two sources of information, and they aren’t really related. That makes the information not very helpful.

Still, the rest of the information can be valuable. There are several ways to use this competitive information.

  • Review other campaigns in your account to figure out if this a serious competitor that’s trying to steal your business. Use “spy” software such as Spyfu to see their Google Ads, what messaging they are using and what offer they are making to drive business.
  • The impression share and overlap rate show who your primary competitors are. You can assess their strengths and weaknesses and adjust your messaging as needed.
  • The position above rate can help you make budget adjustments based on how aggressive you want to be.
  • Top of page and absolute top of page rates can give you an idea of your competitors bidding strategies. Are they aggressively going for the top of the page? Or are they more interested in impression share?  

The example that we just spent time on is from the campaign level. You can drill down with auction insights to the ad account level and to the keyword level. The keyword level can be helpful when you are losing share to a competitor and are having trouble figuring out why. Digging into the keyword data may help you find the answer.

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Thanks for reading. Feel free to post questions in the comment section below.


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