Google Ads’ Auction Insights report can be a key component to understanding the competitive landscape of your search keyword markets. The tool allows you to see how you are stacking up against other advertisers at the account level all the way down to the keyword level. But what is the proper way to evaluate Auction Insights, and how can you take what you learn in the report and use it to drive strategy and value for your business? This post will help provide answers to these questions and help improve your competitive analyses.

What Metrics Should You Be Looking At in The Auction Insights Report?

If you only look at one metric, look at Impression Share. This metric will tell you how many impressions you received divided by the number of impressions you were eligible for. Comparing your impression share to that of other competitors will help you understand where you stand in the competitive landscape.

In the example below, you can see you have 59% impression share whereas advertiser #1 has 76% impression share on a given campaign. If you want to become more competitive in the space, you will need to increase your bids and/or improve your quality score.

Using the Google Auction Insights Report

Two other metrics you can look at are Overlap Rate and Absolute Top of Page Rate. Overlap Rate allows you to see how often a particular competitor is showing an ad when your ad also shows. This can give you a better idea of what the results page looks like when someone searches for the keywords in whichever ad group, campaign, or account you’re evaluating.

You can see above that 87% of the time your ad is shown, Advertiser #1 also had an ad showing. Absolute (Abs.) Top of Page Rate is how often your ad or a competitor ad is shown in the first position on the page. This metric is helpful if you are interested in knowing how often you are in the number one spot after Google sunsetted avg. position. In the example here, you are showing in the first position 12% of the time.

What’s a Good Time Frame for Evaluating the Auction Insights Report?

Adjusting your date range and time segment when looking at the auction insights report can provide deeper insights. One of my favorite ways to segment time is by week. Here, you will be able to see if competitors are scaling spend in certain areas. Seeing an increase in your brand CPCs? Looking at auction insights, it’s likely that you will see one or more competitors improving their impression share on your brand terms. The same goes for any other keyword category.

Segmenting by week also allows you to see if a certain competitor has dropped out of the auction. We often see competitors dropping off at the end of a month or quarter due to budget restrictions. This could be a good time to capitalize on the cheaper CPCs from less competition in the auction and scale your efforts.

Segmenting auction insights by month or quarter can also be beneficial. Looking to see CPC trending over the last year? Use the month segment. Increased your budgets over the last few quarters and want to see how the investment has improved impression share? Use the quarterly segment. Try out a few different date ranges and segments to understand how the data is trending and what best captures the insights you are looking for.

To make these time frames and segments more visual, you can export the data into a spreadsheet to chart it. At Metric Theory, we use automation like Google Ads Scripts, along with Google Sheets and Google Data Studio to create living reports for our clients. With automation, you can record trends of Impression Share and other metrics over time, alongside your CPCs, allowing you to have a visual story at your fingertips.

In the story below, Advertiser #1 is consistently your largest competition but has decreased their impression share over the last two months. Another insight here is that Advertiser #5 was showing a light impression share at the start of the year, but has more recently completely dropped out of the auction.

Using the Google Auction Insights Report

How Can I Use Auction Insights to Drive Strategy?

1. Discover New Competitors

While you may have an idea of who your competitors are for your overall business, Auction Insights gives you a clear picture of who is bidding on the same terms as you. More often than not, you will discover new competitors in the Auction Insights report. Some may be direct competitors you haven’t heard of before. You could consider bidding on their own branded terms. Other times, you might notice the list of advertisers in the report does not align with your offering. This could signal that this might not be a relevant area for you to be advertising.

2. Capitalize in Non-Competitive Areas

Notice a campaign category is seeing little competition with few competitors on the auction insights report? Try scaling here. With less competitive pressure, your CPCs are bound to be lower, allowing you to get more clicks within your given budget.

3. Do Competitor Research

Once you know who your competitors are, do your research. Do some live searches to discover the language competitors are using in their copy. Browse their site and landing pages to learn more about their unique selling propositions and calls to action.

Use competitive insights tools to learn more about their paid efforts. SEMRush provides you with an overview of the keywords your competitors are bidding on and the copy they are running. MOAT is also helpful for getting an inside look into the creative assets and messaging a competitor is using. Understanding your competitors’ efforts can guide you toward making your own optimizations and spark ideas to improve your own quality score with Google.

The possibilities are endless with what you can discover in the auction insights report. What’s more important is taking those learnings and using them to drive your SEM and overall digital marketing strategy. Contact us if you are interested in learning more!