The Comprehensive Guide to Impression Shares

Online advertising is booming.

But, when you’re launching digital campaigns, you want to be sure you’re maximizing your efforts — and your profits — by boosting your ad’s impression share. Your impression share tells you how well your ad is performing compared to its total potential audience, and boosting it can help increase engagement as well as profit. 

If you’re only engaging a small portion of your target audience, then analyzing your impression share is usually a good place to start. Increasing this value will help you propel ads to the top of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) and ultimately generate more engagement for your campaigns.

In this post, we’ll explain what impression share is as well as the different types that your marketing team can track during your online ad campaigns.Free Guide, Template & Planner: How to Use Google Ads for Business

Each time your ad is displayed on a webpage, that’s counted as an impression. Ads have the potential for more impressions for different reasons, especially when they’re keyword-savvy, attractive, and relevant.

When you track impression share, you have a clear representation of how well your ad is performing and how you can improve it over time particularly through keywords. While there are plenty of metrics that can track how well your ads are doing, impression share helps you identify the shortcomings of your ad so you can fix it and make it more engaging to your audience.

Read on to learn about the different types of impression share that your business can track to generate more engagement for its ad campaigns.

Types of Impression Share

Search Impression Share

Search impression share is your ad’s impression share on a search network. According to Google, a search network is “a group of search-related websites where your ads can appear,” including Google search results, Google apps such as Maps and Shopping, and on Google search partners’ websites. This metric divides the impressions that your ad receives by the number of impressions it could receive on the search network.

This metric is greatly impacted by budget. If you have a low daily budget on Google, your ad will no longer be shown once you hit your budget. This means your ad might be getting impressions, but it’s still missing out on more engagement because of this daily limit.

If you’re not looking to spend more on your campaign, another way to improve search impression share is to focus on the quality score, target, bid, and conversion rate of your ads. These metrics gauge the effectiveness of your ad and improving them will lead to more engagement.

Display Impression Share

Google defines its Display Network as a group of over two million websites, videos, and apps where ads can appear. Display Network sites reach up to 90% of internet users and can show your ads in a particular context, or to a specific audience.

With display campaigns, you can increase your ad placements to improve impression share, but you’ll need to adjust your budget to accommodate this increase as well. Or, you can decrease your number of placements to make your campaign more cost-effective, but this will reduce the frequency of your ad’s display. The best approach is testing the number of placements until you’ve reached a point where you’ve optimized impression share without going over your campaign’s budget.

Target Impression Share

Target impression share provides an automatic approach to bidding on ads. With this tool, you can set automated bids for your campaign, which gives your ad a better chance of reaching the top of the SERP. And, with a more prominent position on a search results page, your ad is likely to gain more impressions over time. 

Although impression share is only available per campaign, you can track target impression share for all of your campaigns at once. There are plenty of options for customizing it, too. For example, you can set it to bid for a certain section of the page — like the top half — or for certain times and places.

Adwords Impression Share

Wondering how to access your impression share data in Google Ads?

Once you’ve logged into your Ads account, just go to Campaigns > Columns > Modify Columns > Competitive Metrics > Impression Share, then click Save.

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Now, your impression share will appear in a table that you can download.

Exact Match Impression Share

Exact match impression share is just as it sounds. This metric compares the impressions your ad received compared to how many it was eligible to receive for searches that exactly match your keywords. You can use exact match impression share to hone in on your keywords and improve your ads.

Search Lost Impression Share

The “Search Lost Impression Share (budge)” column shows you the percentage of impressions that you’re missing out on because of your budget. A high percentage here may mean that investing in a larger budget could boost your advertising efforts and sales in the long-run.

The “Search Lost Impression Share (rank)” column shows you the number of impressions you’re losing based on a low rank. If this percentage is high, advertisers should consider how to boost rank through quality score and cost-per-click rates. Quality score evaluates your keywords’ past performances, ad relevance, landing page experience, and expected clickthrough rate.

Consider making adjustments to your campaign’s keywords and creative assets if your search lost impression share (rank) is high. A relevant ad with great keywords will rank higher on the SERP, which can lead to more impressions, clicks, and sales.

If you want to manually determine the impression share for an ad, below is a formula that can help you calculate it.

As Google explains, “Eligible impressions are estimated using many factors, including targeting settings, approval statuses, and quality.” Once the maximum number of impressions is determined, all you have to do is divide the number of impressions that the ad receives by the maximum number of impressions that Google decides it’s eligible for.

We can see how this formula is written in the example below. 

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We can also modify this formula to find the total number of impressions that our ad is eligible for. For instance, if we already know our impression share, we can reformat the formula to look more like this. 

impression-share-available

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Impression Share Formula Example

Let’s say we created an ad and Google says there are 5,000 potential impressions available. After monitoring our ad’s performance for a month, we recorded about 4,000 impressions. This would mean that our impression share is 80% (4,000 recorded impressions / 5,000 available impressions =  80% impression share). 

Impression share is a handy metric for determining how well an ad campaign is doing and what your team can do to help it reach its full potential. By tracking impression share, you can automate bids, fine-tune your budget, and track keywords and quality score to reach your targeted audiences more often and generate greater brand awareness and profits.

For more ways to boost online ad engagement, read this list of helpful SEO tips. kit for how to use Google Ads

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