I'm sure most of you are familiar with Google AdWords Impression Share reporting, now available in your Campaign tab. But how many of you are using the new "Analyze the Competition" tool available in your AdWords Opportunities tab? This new tool adds useful and detailed data for competitive intelligence.
To quote Craig Danuloff over at ClickEquations speaking about AdWords Impression Share data, "Maybe one day Google will share with us Impression Share at the ad group or even the keyword level. Wouldn't that be grand?"
Well, not only did Google start offering share of impression data at the ad-group level, they also included categories, sub-categories, and comparisons for CTR, AvgPos, and Clicks. They even have a weird little video to explain exactly how it works:
Why aren't we hearing more about this great new tool for competitive intelligence? I'm not sure, but the fact remains that it blows Impression Share at the campaign level out of the water. For those advertisers that are following best practices with their account structure, you can really drill down into some insights.
For example, I have most of my competitive head terms in their own ad group, so that means I can see how my impression, clicks, CTR, and average position compared to the other advertisers for a single high-volume keyword . And because I have tightly themed ad groups broken out by match type, I can get some very clean and useful insights on to how I stack up against the competition. If all of my match types were in a single ad group, then I would have to concern myself with potentially irrelevant broad match search query data that would be included in the aggregated data.
You can even drill into the actual search queries (not keywords) that they are using for the comparisons, so you could do a little search query mining  while you're there. Throw in the ability to download the data in a .csv file and geographic filtering and you have a very serious competitive intelligence tool.
While this information is great and very useful, be prepared to struggle through the interface to gather insights. This data would be so much more useful as a downloadable report that included all of the dimensions (Campaign, Ad Group, Category, Sub-Category), but instead you have to drill through manually to get to the good stuff. Keep your fingers crossed; maybe Google will make this data available through the API allowing third-party developers to make this data much more user-friendly.
Here are some useful resources to get you started on using the tool:
One cool application of the Analyze the Competition Tool would be to use it in conjunction with the Ad Preview Tool, especially since you can drill down into different geographic regions in both tools. This would allow you to compare your ad and its performance against the competition, helping you understand why it might be outperforming or underperforming your competitors. Maybe there is a local advertiser showing up in a particular region that you don't typically see nationally, for example.
This new tool is another compelling reason to get your account structure in order. To really take advantage of the data, a more segregated and developed campaign organization  offers a huge advantage and much more actionable insights over a poorly structured account.
By Chad Summerhill, author of the blog PPC Prospector, and in-house PPC specialist at Moving Solutions, Inc.