Loading...

Smart bidding is, well, a smarter way to bid on Google’s paid search inventory. If you opt to manually bid on on it, you’ll have to spend a lot of hours guessing how much of your budget to allocate to different spaces.

Even if you have all the time in the world to create a bid strategy, you won’t beat Google’s machine-learning algorithm in terms of accuracy, effectiveness, or optimization. Smart bidding allows advertisers to spend less time on creating a bid strategy while reaping the rewards of a well-oiled advertising machine.

Let’s dive into the metrics and signals that make Smart Bidding such a valuable advertising tool.

First, We Need to Talk About Average Ad Position

In September, Google discontinued a popular metric known as Average Ad Position. In short, this metric showed advertisers how their ads measured up against the competition and in what order they were likely to appear on the Search Engine Results Pages. It did not show exactly where on the page an ad would be displayed—and Google had three different areas it could potentially display the ad (at the top above the organic search results, at the bottom, and on the right).

Although many advertisers got a lot of value out of the average ad position metric, there’s no need to worry about its passing. There’s a better and more accurate way to determine where your ads will show up in Google’s search results, and it all has to do with search top and absolute top impression rates.

These new metrics are referred to as Prominence Metrics, and they give advertisers a more nuanced and up-to-date view of how their ads are likely to be displayed on Google’s Search Engine Results Pages.

What You Need to Know About Prominence Metrics

Depending on your specific advertising strategy, chances are you’re hoping to drive an optimal number of conversions with your ads. What counts as a valuable conversion may differ based on industry, advertising goals, and other factors, but we generally consider them to be a favorable action. That could include filling out a form, downloading a white paper, viewing a certain product page, or filling out a credit application.

If your website traffic drops and you can’t determine why, prominence metrics are a good place to start. They offer better clarity on where your ad is going to show up on the Google search results page and also the share of impressions that you will likely get.


There are four different prominence metrics you should use, and they help advertisers execute one of two strategies. The metrics are:

Absolute Top Impression Rate

The percentage of your impressions that show up as the very first ad above the organic search results.

Top Impression Rate

The percentage of impressions that show up in any of the top ad spots above the organic search results.

Search Absolute Top Impression Share

The impressions an ad in the top spot on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) received divided by the total amount of impressions possible in that space

Search Top Impression Share

The total amount of impressions received in the top of the SERP divided by the total amount of impressions possible in that space

How to Use Prominence Metrics

If you have been using Average Ad Position to understand where your ads will end up on the page, you should start using Impressions (Absolute Top % and Top %) as these will give you a more realistic idea of where your ad is actually showing up.

On the other hand, let’s say you were using average ad position to determine where on the page you wanted to bid. In this case, use the Search Impressions (Absolute Top and Top) to determine which spots on the page are going to give you the most impressions.

Smart Bidding: The Most Effective Way to Bid on Google’s Ad Inventory

After a thorough analysis of all their ad campaigns, Google realized that a majority of bidding strategy was based on average ad position. Although it was a highly valuable metric, it had evolved to the point where it no longer provided the most accurate image of where an ad would show up—the top.

And once Google started adding other areas for ads to appear, like the right-hand column and the bottom of the SERP, ad position started to take on a different meaning altogether. Plus, with all the new intent signals, it became impossible to manually bid on all the variations. That’s where Smart Bidding comes in.

Smart bidding is so effective because it is powered by a machine-learning program. This program has only one job: to learn everything it can about your ads on Google, and use that knowledge to better optimize them to achieve your goals. Not only is that its only job, but it’s also the only thing it will ever do. As such, over time it becomes highly intelligent and knows exactly how to fine-tune your ads to deliver the best results.

Those could be conversions, CPA, ROAS, or CPC. It all depends on your specific goals and objectives. There are three huge benefits to smart bidding:

  • You can tailor every bid to your objectives with Smart Bidding’s wide array of signals, which includes device, location, time of day, remarketing lists, browser, language, and more.
  • You can set your performance targets to better align with your company’s attribution model
  • You can determine exactly how your campaign is operating and how Smart Bidding is optimizing it for your goals.

Create Smarter Ad Campaigns with Google’s Smart Bidding

Smart bidding is a tremendous asset to any advertiser looking to drive conversions online. Bidding for Google’s Ad Inventory is only going to become more complex as more and more intent signals begin to appear—so it’s only going to get more challenging to manually bid on ads.

It’s time to loosen up your hold on your online advertising campaigns, while still delivering the conversions your company cares about. Dive into Google’s Smart Bidding to learn how to build a more powerful advertising campaign.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Get New Posts to Your Inbox

Receive insights, resources, and inspiration on distributed marketing tactics for multi-location brand marketers.

Thank you for subscribing! You will receive new blog posts when we publish.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.