AdWords Impression Share: Understanding and Improving Your Impression Share


Many times I have seen instances where clients pause keywords because they aren’t generating click or impression volume. While pausing is certainly one method for acting on low-performing keywords, I typically recommend pausing only as a last resort. There is plenty to consider when it comes to diagnosing why a keyword isn’t generating volume, and one often overlooked, yet informative metric is impression share.

Impression share is the number of impressions you've received divided by the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive. Eligibility is based on your current ads' targeting settings, approval statuses, bids, and Quality Scores. You can view impression share data at the campaign, ad group and keyword levels.

Types of Impression Share in AdWords

There is more to impression share than just a simple number; there are different facets that you can use to get an even greater depth of analysis. The different breakdowns for impression share are as follows:

  • Search impression share – your impression share strictly for impressions generated through the Search Network.
  • Display impression share – your impression share strictly for impressions generated through the Display Network.
  • Search lost impression share (budget) – the percentage of impressions you lost out on for the Search Network due to an insufficient budget (this is available at the campaign level only).
  • Display lost impression share (budget) – the percentage of impressions you lost out on for the Display Network due to an insufficient budget (this is available at the campaign level only).
  • Search lost impression share (rank) – the percentage of impressions you lost out on for the Search Network due to low ad rank.
  • Display lost impression share (rank) – the percentage of impressions you lost out on for the Display Network due to low ad rank.
  • Search exact match impression share – your impression share from the Search Network for search queries that matched your keywords exactly.

Impression share is important because it can give you a great indication of why a keyword may not be performing. Based on the data breakdowns mentioned above, you can use it to identify if your keywords aren’t performing due to bidding or budget-related issues, which are two important items to keep in mind when assessing performance.

Still figuring out what search marketing is all about? Check out PPC 101: A Beginner's Guide to PPC

If your keyword bids are too low, you might risk your ads not appearing on the first page, which may lead to missed opportunities for impressions, clicks, and even conversions. Ensuring that your bids are high enough that your ads are appearing in competitive positions will greatly improve your chances of capturing impressions and clicks, and generating traffic to your site. You will definitely want to use this metric in conjunction with the average position of your keywords. You may notice that the average position for your keywords is high, but that your impression share is low. This can tell you that when your ads appear, they appear in high positions, but because your impression share is low, those ads aren’t getting as much exposure as they could be in those high positions.

As a general rule of thumb, Google will stop displaying your ads for the day once your daily budget is exhausted. If your campaigns have a low daily budget, and that budget limit is reached early in the day, your ads will not be shown later in the day.  So again, your ads may be generating impressions for you, but they can only generate those impressions for as long as your budget can allow for. Increasing your budget can allow Google to run your ads more frequently throughout the day, and allow you to increase that impression share.

How to Improve Your AdWords Impression Share

Take a look at the impression section of the WordStream dashboard graph for a client I have been working with. When they signed onto WordStream at the beginning of September, their impression count was 12,839. The client was focused on how exactly they could improve that impression share, so we worked together to examine their metrics and construct a plan of action. As all things in the PPC world, the improvement didn’t happen overnight, but within just a couple of weeks, their impression level jumped up to 38,331 – that’s almost a 200% increase.

Google AdWords Impression Share

So as you can see, impression share can be improved, using the techniques we have discussed. There are also some additional strategies you can use to increase your impression share:

  • Adjust geo-targeting settings – If you decrease or restrict your location settings, you may see a spike in impression share. Targeting one specific location or area only will allow you to focus all efforts on that one area, and allow you more control over a specific target. While you will be serving your ads to a smaller area in general, you can take steps to ensure your ad is shown to as much of that area as possible.
  • Improve your ad quality – As mentioned earlier, ad quality can also have an impact on impression share. If you can take steps to improve your PPC ads, then Google will display those ads more frequently by virtue of quality score. Try improving your ad text by making it as specific and relevant as possible to the keywords in their respective ad groups.

You can find impression share under the Columns button in AdWords. You will want to choose “customize columns,” then “competitive metrics,” where you will find all of the different impression share metrics (again, don’t forget that lost impression share due to budget is only available on the campaign level). 

Impression Share

Impression share can really give you a great indication of how you can act on low-performing keywords. Whether it is increasing bids or daily budget, improving the overall quality of your ad and keywords, or using search terms to identify new keywords and negatives, you have many options for improvement before considering pausing a keyword. If you have questions about how to interpret impression share, leave a comment or reach out to your Customer Success rep. 


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Oct 28, 2013

Geo targetting is very important for any campaign, also even before doing PPC a user should always define its daily budget limits.Often many of us risk our important keywords only because of bad analysis or poor targeting..

Nov 01, 2013

This is  really an informative post. I find it usefull in order to make the paid search more effective.

Nov 03, 2013

Hi,I have a GDN campaign targeted only for one sinngle city and, the Display IS is <10% with an average position 1 for my image ads but, then, when I look at the Display IS (Rank) this is >90%, which is very bad.But how come to have a Display IS (Rank) of >90% when the avg. position is 1 and also the Display IS is good with <10%. Thank you!Liliana

markandey singh
Dec 20, 2013

Which impression share is good. 90% or 70%. 

Mark Trudeau
Feb 25, 2014

Exactly the right question!  This article said NOTHING about the Impression Share.  It's like a used car salesman!  They tell us the Impression Share (a percentage) is important, and then they say they doubles the Impressions (not share).  Anyone can double impressions!  Christ, I can get 1 million impressions a day if I want.  What I need is to increase my Impression Share (percentage).  Want an example?  I called Google once to ask them about adding impressions.  They first said "just increase your target!"  Too funny!  My campaign runs with a 7 mile radius (my business is a local business only).  Of course increasing the target by a number of miles will increase my impression dramatically, but they would be useless impressions, I will never get customers from over 7 miles away in my business.  What I really needed to do was increase the impressions within my target, which I eventually learned to do very well.  So, in summary, this article SUCKED!  Your question "what is a good percentage for impression share 70 or 90"?  I don't know, I am also looking for that right now.  I was getting 99% to 93%, and made changes, now 91%.  I am not sure if I need 99% or if 89% is good?

Jul 28, 2017

Your comment is old but for anyone who comes across it and has no idea what you're talking about.

Impression share is "the share of total impressions you showed up for". So in any and all scenarios you can think of, 100% of impression share is better than anything less than that. 91% of impression share is better than 89% of impression share. Higher % is always better than lower %.

If you capped out on location targeting and impression share (say hypothetically you are getting 100% of all impressions you're eligible for and you can only target the 7 mile radius due to the locality of your business), you might look for new keyword opportunities to increase your impressions because it would mean the keywords you're currently targeting are capped out.

Elisa Gabbert
Jul 28, 2017

Exactly. it's all relative but more is better. We have a more recent resource on impression share here:

Feb 12, 2014

i have jsut started a campaign for the client...he is asking me about Impression share loss... what is it please help

Feb 17, 2014

I got aproblem in my adwords account , Every day i got like 300 impr + 10-30 Click , after that i found them all is decressing every moment .i contact Adwords support they didn't reply me .My Question : Why my Impr & Clicks Is Decresing automatic , if it's invalied clicks Noproblem but why impr is decressing too ? This kind of things happens to me every day :(   Thanks &  Best Regards

George Xavier
Jul 14, 2014

With regards to Geo-targeting, I think it can't be applied to all clients since there are some clients who are just targeting that specific location. For example, a client's business is all about used car parts in minnesota. Of course you dont want to see that ads in New York  because it will be a waste of money.
Jul 23, 2014

Some info for a newbe:)

Nov 19, 2014

Hello, I would liek to increase my IS but stay at my current Av Pos of 2.My IS are around 50% Thanks, 

Nov 04, 2015

Can any have increased impression share for the display campaign, image banner ads? My campaign IS is <10%. Why this is? Any ideas.

thanks in advance.

Feb 12, 2016

How do you estimate the number of impressions you were eligible to receive.

Jan 17, 2017


Let's say you have 100,000 impressions in a campaign with an Impression Share of 80%.

That means your ad was shown 80% of the time and not shown 20% of the time.

80% of x = 100,000
x = 125,000

Your ad was shown 100,000 times from 125,000.

Feb 22, 2016

What to do in the situation if my position is good and impression share is low?

Sep 08, 2016

Honestly, this is one of those click-bait "SEO" targeted articles to have a clicks from a search results and to promote Wordstream's paid services. Much water and nothing on the real matter.

You shouldn't focus only on Impressions number, but for Impression Share % metric! Since this tells you on what share of the search volume your ads and keywords were eligible for you are getting.

If you see >90%, but delivering results aren't good, consider to add/expand your keywords base to have more possible impressions.

Overall, exact and good/bad % number on Impressions Share depends on your account, keywords and industry and there is no specific good/bad number (of course impression lost >90% is bad). Use your common sense and data.

Miraj Mandal
Jan 14, 2018

Dear Wordstream Team,

Thank you for sharing such a fruitful information.

However, I have a query which is a bit challenging for me.

Compared to previous month, We raised bids for brand keywords to achieve the top position of 1.0. And Yes, we achieved it compare to previous month, which was 1.1.

Unfortunately, I noticed a curbed down in Search impression share from 95% to 92%. We are using the same budget we used for previous month. Would appreciate if you could help me understand the factor & a solution to improve the search impression share.

Thanks & Regards,
Miraj Mandal

Allen Finn
Jan 15, 2018

Are you using ad scheduling? Are your budgets running out towards the end of the day? Are you using any negative keywords that might be standing in the way of some impressions earned on broader iterations of your branded terms?

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