Google Sunsetting Average Positions in Q3 2019

What That Means for the Location of Your Ads

In late February, Google announced it would deprecate average position in September 2019 in favor of new metrics that it says will help advertisers better understand the location of their ads on the page.

For years, Google has represented the order of auction results as a number like 1.0 for top position as a metric for how prominent your ads are. However, in cases where ads show beneath the organic search results, position 1 might be the bottom of the search engine results page (SERP).

To better understand where ads are showing in the SERP, Google rolled out new metrics in Q4 2018.

  • Absolute top impression rate - % of impressions shown as the very first ad above organic search
    • This is what we equate to position 1 currently, but because position 1 is not always at the top of the page, the absolute top better represents how far up on the page the ad shows
  • Top impression rate - % of impressions shown at the top of the SERP
    • We typically associate this with positions 1 – 3 (which we expect to be the ads above the organic listings), but because the placement of positions varies on the page, top impression rate gives a better idea of the placement of our ad on-page
  • Absolute top search impression share – impressions received in absolute top location divided by estimated number you were eligible to receive
  • Top search impression share – impressions you received in top location divided by the number of impressions you were eligible to receive in that location

According to Google, these metrics allow more transparency and control. Because average position was an average of how your ads ranked on the page, it was difficult to know when the ad was showing at the top of the page, as position 1’s location varies. The new focus on top and absolute top impression share is a more accurate measurement of how high on the SERP your ad shows and will allow us to better equate the impact of ad location to CTR.

The impact to CPCs with this change is yet to be determined, though, we suspect there may be some increases, especially at the start. With a more definite percentage of just how high specific keywords are showing up on-page, there may be increased competition with advertisers trying to reach that absolute top position.

If you have additional questions about average position and the potential impact you might see, reach out to us.


Caryn Tate, Senior Digital Media Buyer