Why Do We Have Such Low Impression Share Relative?

Roy, I hope you are doing well and are surviving the holiday season.  I was wondering if you could answer a few questions for me about our low impression share and how we can do a better job of optimizing impression share relative to our competitors.  I've spent some time in the Auction Insights Report in Google AdWords and our impression share is 11% compared to some of our competitors that are in the 30-40% range.  Here are a few questions that I'd love your get your insights on:

  1. If we don’t see ourselves listed as a seller of an item, but it is in our feed with the correct GTIN is it possible we are bidding too low or does Google display ALL sellers for a given SKU?

  2. Do you know what constitutes an impression in Shopping Campaigns? Is an impression only when it shows up in Search Results or is it any time a user is exposed to our ad?

  3. What are your tips for improving our low impression share?


Hey Matt, impression share is a diagnostics tool, not something you should consider "optimizing for". You are optimizing for profit dollars. Full stop.

My understanding is that an impression is counted any time your site's name appears, and there's a link to you, once per user per session. So, if the see an Ad on the SERP, and then click to seem more vendors, and then click to see all vendors, anyone who showed up along the way gets an impression (and only one). However, if you started your search over, with a new query, those are new impressions. Don't quote me on that, though.

Where you are successfully matching impression share is a function of bid. Bid, in turn, is a function of AOV, Conversion Rate, and COS. Therefore, Impression share is tied to spend, if you consider the site's metrics as a separate matter.  You can check out my free eBook Getting Started with AdWords for a little more background on how bidding works.

If you're concerned with overall match rate, it's actually an unusually high impression share that shows up as a symptom. Imagine there's a product ABC, but you're the only one in the world that calls it an ABCD. Then, Google would be reporting your share of impressions on searches related to the ABCD--of which you would own almost all of them. A very low impression share suggests that you have room to improve, but it's not directly a matching issue.

If you have products that aren't attracting any clicks, but you're certain you have the right UPC and other product data, then the next variable in the list is bid. I don't know if there's a threshold that would prevent you from showing up at all (even in the expanded list), but very few shoppers get that far anyway. To test, you could try to isolate a specific problem product, and push its bid far beyond normal, and see what happens. If it starts getting clicks, then you have your answer (and you might be able to see it in the wild).

But bottom line is: you're not trying to grow impression share. If you aren't the cheapest on every product, and have the most overwhelming merchant reviews, that could very easily lead to nothing more exciting than a lot of unwarranted expense.

Thanks for the question Matt.  Drop me a line if you have any other questions.  I love to talk shop.

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