Last Updated on 23 April 2024 by Stu Edwards

When it comes to managing successful Google Ads campaigns, there are several core metrics that are fundamental to improving campaign performance.

In the performance marketing environment where every PPC manager is highly results-driven, the value of some key metrics can may be undermined.

Google Ads Impression Share metrics


In the process, some Google Ads specialists are more likely to focus on metrics that impact conversion KPIs, losing sight of others that play an essential role in the top funnels of the user journey.

Google Ads Impression Share is one of them.

Despite being one of the vital metrics attributed to success or failure, Impression Share (IS) analysis remains under-utilised in many cases.

So we’re here to explain what impression share is and what it means for your account, campaigns, ad groups and keywords.

We’ll learn how Impression Share is calculated, and we’ll give you some tips on how to improve your impression share metrics to ensure you’re getting the very best results for your campaigns.😉

Let’s dive in!

What is Impression Share?

Impression share (IS) is pretty much as it sounds.

When showing your ads to users, Google Ads estimates the total impressions a keyword or search term was eligible to receive.

But in reality, your ads receive a certain number of impressions based on various elements in your account. eg; your bids, budget, device targeting, Quality Score (and more).

Impression Share shows you the percentage of the impressions your ads received, compared to the total impressions you were eligible to get.


Impression Share Formula

The impression share formula is derived directly from its definition above.

Impression Share is calculated as:

Impressions / total eligible impressions

The total eligible impressions number depends on elements such as targeting, approval status, and quality of the search.

These metrics are reported separately for each campaign and are not aggregated on an account level.

You’ll find the impression share data by navigating to campaigns, ad groups (or product groups for shopping campaigns), and keyword pages in your ad account.


impression share columns


Having trouble finding these metrics? They might not be selected in your column view to display in the Google Ads UI.

Here’s how to get the data:

> Navigate to the campaign, ad group (or product groups for shopping campaigns), or keyword page view

> Click on the “Columns” icon, then select “Modify Columns”


impression share columns -modify


> Navigate to “Competitive metrics”.


competitive metrics


> Select all search impression share metrics you need to be displayed and click “Apply”.


competitive metrics 2


You can now find the metrics displayed in your reporting.


impression share metrics Google Ads UI

How to Calculate Impression Share

To calculate impression share, let’s take this example.

Say the total estimated impressions for one of your keywords was 10,000, and your keyword only received 1,000 impressions.


Impression Share formula


Impression share: 1,000 / 10,000

Your impression share will be 10%.

This means that the keyword only received 10% of the impressions you were eligible to get.

So in this example, that means we missed out on 90% of eligible impressions.

That’s 90% of the time your ads didn’t show, by not optimising to get the best impression share for any of your keywords, ad groups, or campaigns.

Is Impression Share The Only Competitive Metric That Matters?

No. There are different types of Google Ads impression share metrics that help you gain insight into your performance.

Here is the impression share breakdown:

  • Search Impression Share: Search impression share shows the impression share generated only on the Search Network compared to the impression share you were eligible to get.
  • Display Impression Share: This shows the impression share generated only on the Display Network compared to the impression share you were eligible to get.
  • Search lost IS (budget): This shows the percentage impression share lost from budget constraints. You’ll only find impression share lost to budget at the campaign level in your account.
  • Display lost IS (budget): This is the percentage of impressions lost on Display Network due to budget constraints. Similar to the Search lost IS (budget), this only applies to campaign-level analysis.
  • Search lost IS (rank): This breakdown only applies to the Search Network. Impression share lost to rank is the percentage of impressions you lost due to poor ad rank.
  • Display lost IS (rank): Provides the percentage of impressions lost on Display Network from poor ad rank.
  • Search exact match IS: This shows the search impression share for searches matching exact keywords (or close variants) in your Search Network.

Note: Keep in mind that search impression share metrics for shopping campaigns differ in that they’re obtained from Search Network traffic, not from Display Network or Search Partners


Why is Impression Share Important?

Impression share metrics are important because they show how your ads compare with other ads. They indicate missed opportunities and areas worth optimising if a keyword, ad group, or campaign is not performing.

When looking at the impression share metrics defined above, you can tell if a campaign performed poorly due to budget constraints. You can also tell when keywords performed poorly over a period due to poor ad rank.

Let’s take a typical example you might see in your account:

Search impression share for a top-performing keyword went down one week compared to the previous.

To know why that happened, you may need to further look at the Search lost IS (rank) metrics to tell if the rank dropped.

If that’s the case, you could look deeper into the Auction Insights report to know if competitor ads are overlapping, or appearing at a higher position above your ads. You might need to change your bids or adjust your tCPA/ROAS targets.

There are two elements worth looking at when analysing impression share:

Your bids

Low bids on your keyword might mean your ads lose out on first page positioning, or fail to attain top positions in the ad pack. Meaning your ads are not being seen, causing a decrease in Impressions, Clicks, and ultimately conversions.

Your bids should be high enough to get competitively positioned in the SERP. But increasing bids alone won’t make your ads automatically attain top positions.

Ensure all other elements that affect rank work in your favour to achieve higher ranks for your ads.

Look to analyse Ad quality, expected CTR and landing page experience metrics.

Your budget

Budget limitations also significantly affect impression share.

With a budget-constrained campaign, your ads will naturally receive fewer impressions.

Here’s why; if your daily campaign budget runs out, your ads will stop showing. Increasing your budget would mean your ads show longer throughout the day when searches occur – leading to a higher overall impression share.

As you can see, there’s so many aspects to gauge your overall ad performance using impression share metrics alone.

How to Improve Google Ads Impression Share Metrics

Thankfully it’s not a lost cause if your impression share metrics are falling behind your expectations.

Here are a few example actions you can take to improve your impression share metrics to see better performance in your Google Ads account.

Decrease regional targeting

Targeting a wider geographic location can mean a huge pool of available impressions. But isn’t that what every marketer wants?

The issue here is your efforts span across a larger geographic target location, when you may be seeing your best results in certain cities/metros/states/zip codes/post codes.

Decreasing your location targeting to more particular locations may mean your ads will serve more frequently to those users who are more likely to convert.

While this change would mean a decrease in impressions available to you, it would also mean a higher impression share for those eligible impressions.

For a local business, this would mean dominating your best locations only, and cutting the fat around poorer performing target areas.

Improve ad quality

Ad quality highly impacts your impression share.

With higher quality scores, Google will show your ads more frequently as they serve the target audience’s needs best.

Google wants advertisers to spend money, and those with the strongest quality scores in the auction will see the best overall performance in terms of ad visibility.

Here are some tips on improving your quality score:

  • Create ad groups that have similar keywords so you can serve the searchers with a highly relevant ad that’s specific to their search.
  • Improve your ad CTRs by showing ads that are tightly relevant to the user search. High CTRs will ensure your ads have a higher chance of being clicked on.
  • Improve the landing page experience to make it relevant to your ad. The landing page content should match the visitors’ search. The landing page should ideally maintain consistent messaging with the ad text. With a highly relevant and optimised landing page, you should see a higher conversion rate.

Make sure the below is tightly aligned as possible, and you’re halfway to Google Ads paradise… 🙌

User query > Target Keyword > Ad copy text > Landing page experience

Increase campaign budget

As earlier mentioned, campaign budget affects how often your ad is shown. To improve search impression share, ensure your campaigns have a sufficient budget.

If increasing budget isn’t an option, you could analyse historical day of week / time of day data in your account with the aim of prioritising ad spend where you see your best performance – effectively cutting out poor performing days, or hours during the day.

This will help you squeeze more from your budget, while maintaining a healthy impression share during your eligible ad schedule .

Increase your bids

Low bids (or unrealistic tCPA/tROAS targets) will limit your available impressions. Ensure your bids are high enough to improve search impression share.

Increasing bids alone (on a low-quality ad) won’t guarantee higher ad ranks and better results. Analyse your Quality Score metrics and make improvements before cranking up your bids.


Final Thoughts on Google Ads Impression Share Metrics

Impression share metrics are a critical aspect of any Google Ads account. They show how well your ads perform based on impressions received compared to the potential impressions they could receive.

There’s no one-fit-all solution to improve Google Ads impression share metrics. Different campaigns, ad groups, and keywords will require a different approach.

They’re essential to understanding your broader Google Ads visibility and market share for your campaign / ad group / keyword activity.

If you’re not paying close attention to impression share metrics, you’re likely losing out out on either growth or defensive opportunities to better your campaign performance.

Start by understanding which impression share breakdown is affecting your ad performance before changing your keywords, ad groups, and campaigns (and bids!).


If you have any questions about how impression share metrics, and how proper analysis and optimisations can lift your campaign performance, then get in touch! We’re a dedicated Google Ads management agency and we’d love to hear from you.