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Adwords Impression Share Exact Match: Fact or Fiction?

Goldmember In my previous post, I talked about the importance and/or irrelevance of Google’s impression Share Metric and now I am discussing how the Impression Share Exact Match metric, which is frankly more of a brain-freeze than an interesting brain teaser. After reading Google’s description of this report, (say like 3 times) I still cannot make any clear assumptions. In fact, when I ran a report with both Impression Share and Exact Match Impression Share, almost 95% of all of the campaigns show a higher Exact match impression share percentage as compared to the standard impression share. So, if I have interpreted this correctly, there are less opportunities to spend more on Exact match keywords and more to spend on Broad Match. So, when you put the two together, it means that Google wants its advertisers to spend more on generic keyword coverage, which conveniently for them,  has a much higher CPC and search volume potential than exact match. However, none of this should be a shock to anyone. Why? It’s just more "gold" in Google’s vault. (hence my photo of Mike Myers as Goldmember in Austin Powers in GoldMember. Hee hee!

So what is this telling me?

Here’s Google interpretation: According to Google, "Impression Share Exact Match reports the impression share of your campaigns as if your keywords were set to Exact Match. Since keyword match type can affect your impression share, Impression Share Exact Match can help you determine your share of voice for just the specific keywords you are targeting without requiring you to make adjustments to your campaigns.

For example, one of the reasons why you may have low impression share is because you’re not showing on broad match keywords. Impression Share Exact Match tells you how your keywords would perform if they were all exact matched, so that you can determine whether or not match type is a cause for low impression share. This lets you rule out match type and focus on other possible factors when you are working to improve your impression share. "

Here’s my interpretation:
Google wants its advertisers to believe that there is less opportunity on highly targeted long tail exact matches and more opportunity to increase CPCs and expand more broad/generalized keywords in order to increase market coverage and hence improve business goals. Funny phenomena, since Exact Match is supposed to filter out the bad traffic and drive more qualified leads to your site while keeping your costs down in order to stay in the game. How is it that with every new bell and whistle coming out of Google is suggesting you spend more and more on broad match, and less on what matters to you most. Cost effective performance.

Again, This feature is available as a column option under ‘Level of Detail’ when you run an Account or Campaign Performance report. Data is available for search campaigns only.

~ “No great marketing decisions have ever been made on quantitative data” – John Scully

Filed under: Google Adwords, Online Strategy, Web Analytics

8 Responses to "Adwords Impression Share Exact Match: Fact or Fiction?"

  1. Tad Miller says:

    I’ve been looking at the Adwords Impression Share and Exact Match impression share metric obsessively since it became an available metric to see.
    I’ve worked extensively to improve my Ad Ranks, Click Through Rates and Quality Scores to improve my impression share. But after coming to the realization with the Google Search Query Reports of how bad Broad match can be and hearing about 1-2 punch adserving that can combine totally irrelevant ads on the same search query, I don’t think the Overall impression share metric is as important as previously thought.
    If you have high exact match impression shares and much lower Overall impression shares I think your getting the most of the best traffic, and the majority of the lost overall impression share traffic is probably junk you don’t want.
    Our biggest issue with Overall Impression share is its relationship to Max Costs Per Click and Ad Position. We have several Campaigns that have Great Quality Scores for the keywords and landing pages, have good click through rates and should have great Ad Ranks. They are profitable at lower ad positions and low costs per click. They are perfect! But we believe that Google is withholding us from getting more impressions, soley because of our low bids.
    We have experimented by raising bids and position and impressions and impression shares skyrocketed – while Click Through rates stayed about the same…
    Google is using Quality Score and Impression Share to drive up bids in my opinion.

  2. Greg Meyers says:

    Tad, thanks for the great insights. I hope your response sparks some more opinions about this.

  3. D. Himes says:

    Excellent post. I’m pretty new at this, but I think Google needs to work on their invalid click algorithms, also. Although it helps my CTR and therefore should help keep my bids down, I don’t think the tradeoff is in my favor financially for a small site just starting out.
    The invalid click report showed “0” invalid clicks when I clearly see in the logs that “someone” clicked an add, then made four more requests for html files, within one second (then apparently left the site)! Others seem suspicious, also, but the evidence is less clear.
    I contacted support this morning and am still waiting to hear back.

  4. exact says:

    Adwords Impression Share Exact Match: Fact or Fict…

    Bookmarked your post over at Blog!

  5. Chris Peters says:

    If that’s how Google wants to play, then I’ll gladly spend any marketing surplus at Yahoo! and Ask. Power of the buyer!

  6. Jeff James says:

    I think you’re drawing conclusions hastily here. For most advertisers, using ONLY exact match would result in SIGNIFICANTLY fewer impressions (of equivalent quality). If I had to rely solely on exact match for ALL keywords I would be upset.
    The value in knowing the differential between the two is valuable in that it helps you formulate a decision (you have to think about it) regarding whether or not:
    a) You have enough keywords
    b) Of the keywords you do have, “what is your share of voice”.
    Without those 2 data points, do you really have a good idea where you stand in the system with regards to maximization of traffic?
    To say that they’re insinuating that you should blow out your account and add broad terms for any product/service/cause tangentially related is just an emotional reaction with little grounding, if any in what they’ve intended to do.
    What would be truly useful is if they offered the denominator in the exact match I/S calculation.

  7. Marco says:

    I have been looking into this with my current campaign on
    Exact match IS is still low at 31% and I suspect – I know – there is room for improvement as most of my keywords are broad match anyway. The next step would definitely be to stack bid my keys, as to cover the full spectrum, but on different bids. But yeah, broad match is a money sink for Google and taxes the inexperienced advertiser.

  8. Banners says:

    What about phrase match? Using broad match was a waste of money due to less qualified visitors. Using phrase and match keywords seems to have better qualified visitors and less impression. As I add negative keywords, I’ve seen even less impression and my daily budget was a factor. I could understand less impression, but why increase my daily budget? Before adding bunch of negative keywords, I’ve been getting steady stats spending same daily budgets for months.

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