Ready to improve performance by using Google Ads Auction Insights? Follow this comprehensive roadmap to outsmart the competition and maximize ROI.

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Imagine you’re in a high-stakes poker match. The opponents? Seasoned pros, each with their own strategies and tricks.

But you’re not just playing for chips on a table. You’re vying for visibility on Google’s top search results page (or SERP).

Every bid, keyword, and strategy can make or break your outcome. Make the right ones, and you’ll dominate, driving traffic and conversions like never before. 

Make the wrong ones, and you’ll find yourself lost in the abyss, virtually invisible to your target audience.

But what if you had an ace up your sleeve giving you insights into your competitors’ moves, letting you adjust your strategies in real time

That’s exactly where Google Ads Auction Insights comes into play. It’s your secret weapon for tilting the playing field in your favor and mastering the Google Ads game.

In today’s article, we tap into the expertise of one of HawkSEM’s lead strategists, Ashley Molloy, for expert tips on how to leverage Google Ads Auction Insights for a competitive edge.

Ready to optimize your bids and see peak ROI with Auction Insights? Keep reading.

 What are Google Ads Auctions Insights?

Google Ads Auction Insights is a reporting tool that allows advertisers to compare their performance with other advertisers competing in the same auction for Search and Shopping Ads on Google Search,” explains Molloy.

Using the data, advertisers can make strategic budget and bid decisions based on where they identify opportunities and different competition levels.

So, what kinds of metrics do Auction Insights reports provide? 

  • Impression Share: The percentage of impressions your ads received versus the total available
  • Average Position: Where your ad typically appears on the search results page
  • Overlap Rate: How often other advertisers’ ads receive an impression in the same auction as yours
  • Position Above Rate: How often other advertisers’ ads in the same auction show in a higher position than your own
  • Top of Page Rate: How often your ad (or a competitor’s ad, depending on which column you’re viewing) was shown in organic search results at the top of the page

This Auction Insights data serves as a valuable resource for in-depth competitor insights, smarter bidding, and developing a next-level strategy.

Molloy emphasizes the strategic value of Google Ads‘ Auction Insights for advertisers.

She highlights how it can clue you in to what keywords your competitors are targeting, guiding you towards better  choices. Plus, by looking at reports from different time frames, you can quickly spot shifts in the competitive landscape, allowing for nimble strategy tweaks.

In other words, it’s a game-changing tool that can transform your advertising game—if you know how to wield it.

 7 tips for maximizing Google Ads Auction Insights

Navigating Google Ads Auction Insights can be both enlightening and overwhelming. While the tool offers a wealth of data, understanding how to harness this information effectively is where the real challenge lies.

In this section, we’ll share expert tips to help you grasp the intricacies of Auction Insights and use them for optimal results.

First, the basics…

google ads auction insights

1. Learn how to access Google Ads Auction Insights

How do you actually get to your Google Ads Auction Insights report?

Just follow these easy steps:

  1. Open your browser and log into your Google Ads account.
  2. Once logged in, you’ll find yourself on the Google Ads dashboard. Click on the “Campaigns” tab located on the left-hand side of the screen.
  3. Choose the specific campaign for which you want to view Auction Insights. You can also view insights at the Ad Group or Keyword level.
  4. After selecting the campaign, look for the “More” option at the top of the page. Click on it, and a dropdown menu will appear. From this menu, select “Auction Insights.”
  5. At the top right corner, you can select the time range for viewing the Auction Insights. This lets you analyze performance over different periods.
  6. Once you’ve selected your time range, the Auction Insights report will populate, showing you various metrics like Impression Share, Overlap Rate, and Top of Page Rate, among others (more on these in a minute.)

Once you access the data, you can assess your competitive standing and strategically fine-tune your campaigns for better performance.

2. Understand Impression Share

Impression Share is a critical metric in Google Ads Auction Insights.

This tells you the percentage of impressions your ads received out of the total number of impressions they were eligible to receive. 

Meaning? You can see how often your ad is displayed versus how often it could have been displayed.

So how do you interpret your Impression Share?

  • Market visibility: A high Impression Share means your ads appear frequently, giving you good visibility in the market.
  • Competitive standing: A low Impression Share could indicate that competitors are outbidding you or have better-quality ads, thus taking away potential visibility.
  • Budget assessment: If your Impression Share is low due to budget constraints, it may signal that you need to increase your budget to capture more impressions.

Molloy says there’s one often-overlooked feature: 

The report segmentation tool in Google Ads Auction Insights can reveal significant differences in Impression Share across devices.

By keeping tabs on how different devices perform, you can pivot your strategy accordingly. This way, you avoid unnecessary hits to your ad spend and customer acquisition.

This data can also help you identify gaps in your advertising, optimize your bids, improve your Quality Score, and even allocate your budget more effectively.

3. Track performance by monitoring the Top of Page Rate

Keeping an eye on your Top of Page Rate is another crucial aspect of optimizing your Google Ads campaigns. This metric indicates how often your ad gets the prime spot on SERPs versus all the times it could have landed there.

Ads high on the SERPs are more likely to be clicked, boosting your chances of conversion. But the importance of a high Top of Page Rate extends beyond mere visibility. It also reinforces:

  • Competitive advantage: Ads positioned near the absolute top of the page attract more clicks and signal a lethal competitive edge in ad rank.
  • User engagement: These premium placements often yield greater engagement, enhancing click-through rates (CTR) and potentially reducing your cost per click (CPC).

Snagging the very first ad spot on search engines is no easy feat. By keeping a close eye on your Top of Page Rate and understanding what it means, you can make smarter choices to level up your Google Ads strategy.

4. Use Overlap Rate for competitive analysis

Overlap Rate is a metric in Auction Insights that tells you how often you and another advertiser’s ad are duking it out for the same space. 

Here’s how to interpret your Overlap Rate:

  • Numerical representation: If your Overlap Rate with a competitor is 25%, it means that 25% of the time your ad could appear, the competitor’s ad was also eligible.
  • Direct competition: A high Overlap Rate typically indicates that you and the other advertiser share similar targeting (specific keywords, audiences, or both), which makes them a direct competitor in the context of Google Ads.
  • Variable factors: Overlap Rate can vary based on several factors, including the specific keywords you’re bidding on, your targeting settings, and even the time of day.

It’s important to note that the Overlap Rate doesn’t tell you where other advertisers’ ads appeared compared to yours—just that they were eligible to appear in the same auction together.

This data is a goldmine for competitive analysis, as it can:

  • Help you recognize who you’re directly competing against in ad auctions
  • Inform budget decisions, especially when frequently overlapping with a strong competitor
  • Enable you to adjust your bids to outperform competitors you often overlap with.
  • Highlight competitive keywords, helping you decide whether to adjust bids or seek alternatives
  • Signal when to reevaluate your strategy due to shifts in competition or market conditions
  • Provide a comprehensive view of your competitive landscape

Identifying who your direct competitors are in the digital advertising space and how frequently you’re competing against them can help you ramp up the strategy in your Google Ads campaigns.

5. Adjust bids based on Position Above Rate

Think of your Position Above Rate as the leaderboard in a video game. This metric shows you how often a competitor’s ad appeared in a higher position than yours when both ads were in play.

It tells you how frequently you’re being outranked by a specific competitor in ad auctions.

Positive Above Rate is important for a few reasons:

  • Competitive benchmarking: Knowing how often your ads are outranked gives you a sense of your competitive standing. A high Position Above Rate may indicate that your competitors are outperforming you in terms of ad rank.
  • Ad effectiveness: If your Position Above Rate is high, it could mean that your ads are less visible and, therefore, less likely to be clicked, affecting your overall campaign performance.
  • Strategic planning: This metric can inform your bidding and keyword strategies. If a competitor consistently ranks above you, it may be worth reassessing your approach.

When you understand outranking share, you can tailor your bidding and keyword strategies for maximum impact. 

Whether reallocating your budget, optimizing your ad quality, or tweaking your bids, the Position Above Rate offers practical insights for beefing up your ad performance.

6. Leverage Auction Insights data for seasonal trends

Seasonal trends are the ebbs and flows of consumer habits, search activity, and ad competition throughout the year — like during holidays, summer break, back-to-school periods, and so on.

When you use Auction Insights for these trends, you scope out how different seasons shake up your Google Ads, and then fine-tune your strategy to match.

What can you do with season trends?

  • Optimize the timing of your ad campaigns for peak effectiveness.
  • Enable smarter budget allocation, allowing for increased spend during high-impact periods and conservation during lulls.
  • Create a strategic advantage by revealing competitor behavior across different seasons.

When your campaign timing is running like clockwork, you can stretch every ad dollar even further, giving you that competitive edge all year round.

7. Integrate Google Ads Auction Insights with other features and tools

When it comes to your PPC campaigns, you have a plethora of Google Ads functions and digital marketing tools at your disposal—why not use them together to supercharge your strategy?

Consider meshing these Google Ads features with your Auction Insights to really make your campaign stand out from the pack:

  • Keyword Planner: Use Auction Insights for competitive keywords, then use Keyword Planner to refine your bidding strategy.
  • Ad Extensions: If you’re lagging in Top of Page Rate, consider using ad extensions to improve your visibility and CTR.
  • Google Sheets: Use a spreadsheet to collect, analyze, and track your Auction Insights over time. 
  • Audience Targeting: Use Auction Insights to identify who you compete against and refine your audience targeting settings accordingly.
  • Quality Score: Correlate Auction Insights data with Quality Score to optimize ad relevance and performance.
  • Ads Scripts: Automate custom reports and actions by integrating Auction Insights with Google Ads Scripts.

Blending your Auction Insights with other marketing tools helps you make more nuanced decisions and sharpen your strategy. 

Our go-to tool? HawkSEM’s ConversionIQ, which offers:

  • Data importing: Start by pulling your Auction Insights data into ConversionIQ. This lets you view your ad metrics alongside other key performance indicators (KPIs).
  • Performance analysis: Use ConversionIQ to analyze how changes in your Auction Insights metrics correlate with changes in conversions, ROI, and other KPIs.
  • Strategic adjustments: Based on the insights gained, make informed tweaks to your ad campaigns directly within ConversionIQ. For instance, you could change bids, reallocate the budget, or optimize your ad copy.
  • Ongoing monitoring: Use real-time analytics to continuously monitor how your changes affect your Auction Insights metrics and overall performance.
  • Data-driven optimization tips: Receive constant, metrics-driven recommendations based on your integrated data to optimize your campaigns more effectively.

Talk about a 360-degree analysis.

By efficiently integrating Auction Insights with other resources, you’ll prime your ad campaigns for knockout success.

Another vital component? Knowing what not to do.

Turning a blind eye to Auction Insights can leave you in the dark, causing missed opportunities that can weaken your competitive edge. (Image: Adobe Stock)

Turning a blind eye to Auction Insights can leave you in the dark, causing missed opportunities that can weaken your competitive edge. (Image: Adobe Stock)

 3 Google Ads Auction Insights mistakes to avoid

It’s easy to stumble through Google Ads Auction Insights. Here are some common pitfalls to steer clear of.

1. Letting the data slip through your fingers

The landscape of Google Ads is ever-changing, with ups and downs in competitor behavior, market trends, and consumer preferences. Turning a blind eye to Auction Insights can leave you in the dark, causing missed opportunities that can weaken your competitive edge.

As Molloy emphasizes, “Auction Insights reports should be used at least monthly along with other month-over-month (MoM) KPI changes to keep up to date with [fluctuations] in competition and share of voice.”

This regular check-in lets you adapt your strategies in real time and maintain a strong foothold in your market.

2. Not sharing insights with your team

Auction Insights isn’t just for the person managing the Google Ads account; it’s a wellspring of actionable data that can inform every aspect of your marketing strategy.

From the content creators who could tailor their approach based on competitive keywords to the budget planners who could allocate resources more effectively—everyone stands to gain.

So, share these insights with your team to ensure everyone is aligned and empowered to contribute to a unified advertising strategy.

3. Looking at Auction Insights report too broadly

It’s tempting to quickly glance at the report and make assumptions, but this can get murky.

“One of the most common mistakes is looking at the Auction Insights report at too broad of a level—such as at the account level versus at the campaign or even the ad group level,” Molloy explains.

She says the Auction Insights report at the account level shows you an account-wide view, but leaves out the nitty-gritty that only applies to specific campaigns or ad groups.

Molly provides this example: Competitor A may only show a 15% Impression Share at the account level, but when looking at a single campaign, say a campaign targeting Pumpkin Carving Tools, they may have an 85% impression share.

See the issue? You might not catch that you’re losing ground (in terms of Impression Share) to a competitor.

The point is: don’t get lost in the big picture. Zooming in on specific campaigns can reveal where you’re losing ground and catch nuances that can redefine your strategy.

 The takeaway

Securing prime real estate on the SERPs might be high stakes, but now you’ve upped the ante by discovering these actionable tips. Just another player at the table? Not you. 

With the full power of Google Ads Auction Insights in your back pocket, you’ve got this ad game on lock.

Need some extra help? Reach out to HawkSEM today. We’ve got the tools and expertise to help you dominate the playing field.

Contact HawkSEM for Free Consultation