How to Use Google Ads Auction Insights

Have you ever wondered how you’re doing vs your competition? What they’re doing, how often their ads are showing, and how well they might be performing?That’s where Google Ads Auction Insights come into play. You can see how you’re performing on specific keywords and products against your competition.

In this article, we’ll go over the different parts of the Google ads auction insights report and how you can use these insights to beat your competition.

What are Auction Insights?

Before your ads are displayed, Google enters them into its ad auction to determine which ad will show based upon your bid, the quality of your ads, and the expected impact from your ad extensions and other ad formats. We won’t get into too much detail on the auction, but you can read more about it here.

Once your ads are entered into the auction, you can see how you perform relative to your competition for the keywords/products that you’re bidding on. Google will show you information on your impression share, overlap rate, position above rate, top of page rate, abs. top of page rate, and outranking share. 

  • Impression Share: the number of impressions you received divided by the estimated number of impressions you were eligible for. This is sort of like your market share for a given keyword/product. Except it’s more of an indicator of exposure vs dominance because we can’t control the entire search results page.
  • Overlap Rate: how often another advertiser’s ad received an impression when your ad also received an impression. This tells us how often your ad shows up with your competitor’s ad in the search results.
  • Position Above Rate (search campaigns only): how often your competitor’s ad was shown in a higher position than yours. 
  • Top of Page Rate (search campaigns only): this shows us how often an ad (yours or your competition) was shown at the top of the page above unpaid search results.
  • Abs. Top of Page Rate (search campaigns only): similar to the top of page rate as you might have guessed. This metric shows us how often an ad (yours or your competition) is shown at the very top of the search results in the very first position.
  • Outranking Share: tells you how often your ad ranked higher in the auction vs your competitors ad.

Where Do You Go To See Your Auction Insights?

You can see your auction insights for specific keywords, ad groups, and campaigns (search or shopping). 

All you need to do to access your auction insight is:

  1. Select the specific campaign, ad group, or keyword by checking the box next to each item in your Google Ads Manager.
  1. Select Auction insights in the blue bar to see the auction insights for the campaign, ad group, or keyword you selected. You can also see auction insights by clicking into the campaign, ad group or keyword you selected then clicking on auction insights in the gray bar on the left side of your screen.

The campaign, ad group, or keyword you selected will need to have been active during the time period that you’re reviewing and receive a meaningful number of impressions. 

We recommend that you have at least 2000 – 5000 impressions for your selection to get meaningful insights. Usually more data is better to make sure the auction insights report you’re looking at is accurate. If you need more data you can either use a longer time frame or let your campaigns run to generate more impressions.

Insights You Can Gain From Google Ads Auction Insights Data

Auction insights is one of the most underrated reports that you can use (for free) in Google Ads. Here are some of the questions we have helped our clients answer with this data:

  • How are we performing on specific keywords or for specific products?
  • How does our performance compare to our competitors?
  • What other brands are bidding on the same terms that we’re bidding on?
  • Are there any competitors bidding on our brand terms?
  • Has the competition for specific terms increased, decreased, or remained the same?
  • Our CPCs increased even though we didn’t raise our bids. Did any competitors increase their presence on a specific term to potentially increase the cost to compete?
  • What type of competitors are we showing up against (direct, indirect, affiliates, 3rd party vendors, etc)?
  • How often do we show up on specific keywords/products when we have an opportunity to show up?
  • How often do we show up in the 1st position (abs. top of page) when we do show up?
  • How much additional search volume do we have on a given keyword or product?

In order to answer these questions, you need to be able to analyze the data in your auction insights. If you want support analyzing this data, then please feel free to book a consulting call with us.

Google Ads Auction Insights Case Study

For now, let’s take a look at how you can analyze your auction insight data with an example from one of our clients:

For starters, you can see which websites show up in your ad auction. We can see that our fire safety client has 5 competitors in their market for the campaign auction insights that we’re reviewing.

Of those 5 competitors, only 3 have a meaningful presence. Any competitor with less than 10% impression share usually has a smaller budget or is showing up for your keywords indirectly through broad match terms. That’s because it might cost more to compete on certain terms in your industry or they might be doing some prospecting to test the waters for specific keyword themes.

We can also see that we have the highest impression share out of the market and that we’re in a market with little to moderate competition. Normally if there are 1-5 competitors showing up for a term that’s a sign there is less competition. We have the highest impression share though not by a substantial amount (10% or more) and everyone in the market seems to have a smaller presence. This would make sense because we’re bidding in a mid-sized city in the US for a niche service category (fire safety) which has a moderate number of searchers (maybe a few thousand on a busier month for some keywords).

If we were working on a client in a more competitive market for example, we might see over 15 competitors and we all might have a larger impression share (40-60%) with a lot of overlap.

If we look at overlap rate – most of the time our ads don’t even show up at the same time as their ads. This is another sign that most competitors in this market have smaller budgets and that this could be a smaller search market (fewer people could be searching for these terms in a given time frame).

When our competitors’ ads do show up, they show up more often than ours do and usually in a higher position. We can see this when we look at the position above rate, overlap rate, and the top of page rates. There are two things to consider if you’re seeing this insight:

  1. Consider increasing your bids and adjusting your ad copy for specific terms to make sure your ad ranks higher. This should allow you to beat your competition for ad rank overtime.
  1. This could be something to just keep an eye vs acting on. Especially if your goal is to increase your efficiency vs your presence. By bidding lower or focusing on different terms, you can get more conversions and lower your CPA. Remember, we are showing up in the ad auction almost 26% more than our next largest competitor too (just look at the impression share).

On the flipside, if you have a dominant stronghold in your market for ad rank and maybe your impression share is lower, you could increase your budget if you’re seeing good results or see if your ads could improve. The other thing you could consider doing if you’re dominating your market is lowering your bids to save on ad spend while maintaining a dominant position.

Bonus Tips: 

  1. You can go to the ad preview and diagnostic tool in your Ads Manager to see how your ad will show up vs competition.
  1. Look up your competition’s website to see what they’re offering and how it compares to what you’re offering.
  1. If you use Google’s keyword research tool, you can see what the average monthly search volume is for the terms that you’re reviewing in your auction insights to quantify how much additional search volume you can get.
  1. If you have SEMRush or SpyFu, you can look up your competitors’ websites to see what other keywords they are bidding on and how much they overlap vs you. 

Key Takeaways on Using Google’s Ad Auction Insights

  1. You can see how often your ads are showing – this can help you see how much additional market you might have for a specific keyword or keyword theme. It’s important to know that it is extremely difficult to get 80% or more market share unless you have a larger budget or have a product/service that is highly relevant to a given keyword.
  1. Who your competitors are – sometimes you can even find new competitors you didn’t know about in your market or see what your current competitors are doing on Google Ads.
  1. Which keywords have more competition or less. Most tools out there besides something like SEMRush or SpyFu will give you broad estimates on how competitive terms are. The auction insights report will give you specific metrics and the number of competitors in your market so you can look for great opportunities to compete in lower competition markets with a decent amount of search volume.
  1. If someone is bidding on your brand terms – you can see who(m) is bidding directly on your brand. If there’s a trademark or policy issue you can request that Google has your competitor’s ads removed or changed. You can also decide to reach out to your competitor directly to see if they will remove their ads on your brand terms or bid on their brand terms.
  1. What segment of the market your competitors are prioritizing. Hypothetically, if you have campaigns for franchises in Los Angeles, New York, Dallas, etc you can see which competitors are in each market.
  1. How your performance trends overtime and if your competitors are scaling up or down. We recommend visiting these reports on a monthly, quarterly, or bi-annual basis depending upon how much data your account gets. It’s good to review these reports over time to see how your performance and your competition changes overtime. You can also see if any competitors dropped off or entered your market.
  1. If you have a high presence and your ads are showing up in the top position in the search results – as said, you can see how you’re performing and compare this performance to the competition in your market. 
  1. The difficulty to compete on certain terms and in certain markets. You will need to compare this to your keyword and ad data (such as quality score, conversion rate, CPCs, and so forth). Though you should be able to get a basic understanding of how much competition there is vs the cost to compete to achieve your marketing goals with the auction insights report.

Final Thoughts on Google Ads Auction Insights

There are tons of useful insights you can gain from Auction Insights. Reviewing these insights with specific questions in mind can help inform your marketing strategy and help you beat your competitors.

If you’re still having trouble getting the results you want and want to save time, then you should book a free consultation with us today. We can help you find the answers you’re looking for in your Google ads auction insights.

Centaur Consulting Group

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