In a previous article, we wrote about early warning signals that can help you optimize PPC ads faster using Phone Calls and PTR (phone through rate) data. In this follow-up article we explore additional metrics to help optimize PPC ads faster, including Impressions Top & Absolute Top, and Average Session Duration. Using these metrics can give you an early indication of the performance of text ads in search campaigns.
Average Ad Position vs. Impressions Top & Absolute Top
Google previously provided the average ad position (1.5 etc.) as an option in ad performance metrics (reached through the Columns icon under Performance). Google has replaced this metric with Impressions Top and Absolute Top (see Figure 1). These metrics show how prominently your ad appears above the natural search results.
Impressions Top is the percent of ads that appear at the top of the page, above the search results. Impressions Absolute Top is the percentage of ads that appear first above the search results.
You can add the Impressions Top & Absolute Top metrics to your ad display under Columns -> Performance (see Figure 2).
Typically Absolute Top is lower than Top, the ideal prominence would be 100% / 100%, which would mean that the ad shows above the search results 100% of the time, and is number one 100% of the time. Even before you get any clicks and CTR, you can quickly prune out lower performing ads by pausing ads that garner lower impression scores (say below 50%).
Average Session Duration
Another useful metric is the average session duration. Derived from Google Analytics, the average session duration shows how long the average session lasts in seconds. Google Analytics calculates this metric by dividing the total duration of all sessions during a specified time frame by the number of sessions during the same time frame. This metric shows how “sticky” and engaging your ads and landing pages are.
You can show the average session duration metric by linking your Google Ads account with the matching Google Analytics account (see Figure 3). To link up Google Analytics go to Tools & Settings -> Setup -> Linked Account and select Google Analytics (see Figure 3).
The average session duration can be shown for ad groups and individual ads (see Figure 4). We find that expanded text ads tend to have the longest session durations, while display ads have the shortest. Dynamic text ads and smart ads usually fall somewhere in-between.
You can use early warning metrics like average session duration and Impressions Top & Absolute top to quickly triage better ad text from lower performing ads. Even before clicks and conversions register for an ad, these three metrics will appear, allowing you to pause lower performing ads and enhance higher performing ads. The ultimate goal of course is to have high performing ads for all campaigns and ad groups which have high CTR and conversion rates, and lower cost per click and conversions.
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