AdWords Becomes More Insightful with Auction Insights


A brilliant new feature has been added to the AdWords roster. Auction Insights now lets you see data across keywords and even up to the campaign level. Auction insights can be found in the Details tab under Campaigns, as shown below. You can get data for all or selected campaigns, ad groups or even keywords. Now you can see metrics such as impression share, average position, overlap rate, position above rate and top of page rate.

Auction Insights

Auction Insights Explained

Auction insights gives you 5 great metrics to work with:

  • Average position – This gives you an average ranking over your selected time period along with the associated domain. (See also: The Relationship of Click-Through Rate & Ad Position.)
  • Impression share – Represents the amount of times you have appeared in search results when your ads were eligible to receive impressions.
  • Overlap rate – Defines how often your competitors’ ads were shown in the same results as yours.
  • Position above rate – Explains how often a competitor’s ad was shown in a higher rank than your own.
  • Top of page rate – Finally, top of page rate illustrates how often that ad was shown in position one.

AdWords Auction Insights Report

Going Once, Going Twice – Benefits of the Auction Insights Report

The best thing about the Auction Insights report feature is that you can compare your data with your competitors’ data, and this ability creates a lot of other benefits.

One of the simplest things we can extract from this data is who our key competitors are. By looking at the overlap rate, we can identify which competitor is showing ads next to our own. We can use the average position to decipher whether or not they are getting better rankings alongside the position above rate. It is important to make sure you aren’t losing any business to your competitors; something you can do is regularly check your keywords and compare text ads.

Now one question I know I receive a lot through our PPC customers is “How much are my competitors spending?” That’s always been a hard question to answer, but now we have a little more insight into those budgets. We can use our impression share stat – for example, let’s say it’s 50%, and our spend is £3,000. If our biggest competitor is on the list and they have an impression share of 90%, then we could guess that they are spending around £5,400.

The above is only really the case if the average position is the same, which is going to be pretty unlikely. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to find out what your competitors are spending per click, which means you can’t find out the actual spend. What you can do is look at their average position – now naturally a higher position costs more and a lower position costs less. Finally you can compare ad text relevancy to that of your own to help estimate a Quality Score. With all of this information you should be able to determine whether your competitor has a higher or lower CPC than yourself.

One of the toughest challenges faced with PPC clients is persuading them to increase their AdWords budgets – despite the fact that we can prove a steady conversion rate, which we can use to estimate ROI. However, I think that by utilizing Auction Insights, we can compare our clients’ online exposure to that of their competitors, which will hopefully convince them to increase their budgets for PPC.

[MORE: Free Guide: PPC Budget Best Practices]

About the Author

Ben Austin, as the CEO of Absolute Digital Media, has worked in the industry for five years, developing an in depth knowledge of all areas of online marketing, including SEO, PPC, content marketing and social media engagement. He is continually seeking ways to drive the business forward to compete with the biggest names in the sector.


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Larry Harper
Jun 15, 2013

While still being a "silent" auction, these mtetrics will now give seious SE's - SE's who understand that the only factor that should influence a clients decision to work with PPC or not is ROI, all the information they could need to persuade a client during a first meeting or a periodical review of performance of both the value of PPC and the potential.While not giving away the secrets of exactly how close a particular campaign is to winning a higher percentage of market share, it does everything else possible to be transparent. Conversations like "Look, by increasing our bid by 30% we stand to get 60% more traffic and thereby improve ROI and market/brand visibility as well."That's not to say that PPC suits every market and every campaign, but so many  in SEO and IM stay clear of it before they give it a chance. All you really need to know "Is my return on investment worth it"? Taking not just the click value but overheads such as your own time and the cost of campaign design into account. If the answer is "yes" - then the only question you need then ask is "Why on earth aren't we doing it then?"Great post and sound advice. Hope it battles back some of the anti PPC scaremongers!Larry

Randall Magwood
Jun 16, 2013

Great info Ben. Google Adwords is becoming more advanced by the month. From the look of things, it seems like it offers more options than Bing Ads. Yet Adwords is so competitive. I will definitely consider auction insights with my Adwords campaign.

Ben Austin
Jun 18, 2013

Hi Randall, Glad you enjoyed the post. You are right that Adwords is much more competitive than the likes of bing. This is simply because Google recieves roughly 80% of all searches thus has a much larger reach than bing or any other search engine for that matter.

Apr 07, 2015

very good

Jun 15, 2016

Hi Ben,
Thank you for the detailed insight of adwords.
Can you please suggest some free softwares / websites that offer competitors insight as in how much they are bidding for specific keywords.

Moses Moitse Ditshoke
May 12, 2017

i did some deep dive in the auction report,and wanted to know which of the six statistics in the report would be helpful in coming up with recommendations .As a maths intern in my company,i am still trying to familiarize myself with the dynamics of Google AdWords

Anupam Ramanna
Nov 15, 2017

Can we extract the list of competitor URLs for any keyword? Say, I haven't ran any PPC campaigns for "Flower supplier" ever before but I would like to know who my competitors on Adwords are. Can the auction insight report provide me with the list of competing URLs for that keyword?

Thank you much for your article!

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