Report on search impression share for Google Ads: A step-by-step guide

Published Feb 6 2023 Last updated Mar 8 2023 3 minute read
search impression share

If you are struggling to report on search impression share for Google Ads, this guide is for you. We will cover what search impression share is, how it’s used, why it’s valuable to track, and how you can best report on it outside of the Google Ads user interface.

We’ll also provide a step-by-step guide that you can use to get started right away. Without further ado, let’s get started!

What is search impression share?

Search impression share is a metric that informs you how search ads are performing relative to competitors that are bidding for the same keyword(s) and theoretically ranges from zero to 100 percent. It shows the percentage of impressions your ads got compared to the number of impressions your ads were eligible to get. The calculation looks like this:

Impression share = impressions / total eligible impressions 

There are two reasons why your impressions are lower than the total eligible impressions, and they are both core concepts in Google Ads auction format: budget and rank.

Budget means that your daily budget has been reached, and if you would have allocated a higher budget, you may have achieved additional impressions. Rank means that you did not win the auction, because your ad rank was too low and a certain percent of impressions were lost (read more about all six factors that go into ad rank here).  

Why is it important to keep track of search impression share?

Unlike metrics such as costs and revenue, where exact figures are key, search impression share provides a general idea of the minimum and maximum capacity of a certain campaign and keyword. Without it, you can be easily fooled into thinking there are endless potential impressions if you just improve your ads and/or improve your ad rank. Worst case, it can lead to massive waste where more and more budget or time is poured into a campaign where the maximum potential is close to (or has already) being reached.

It’s also an important metric to track to see if and how the dynamic is changing in the auction for a certain keyword.

Maybe a new competitor has started putting large budgets into certain auctions, which lowers your search impression share. Or an old competitor has decreased their bidding, which gives you a higher share. This would not be possible to track by looking at the standard Google Ads reports alone where search impression share offers a great additional tool.

What search impression share should I aim for?

It would be great to be able to give a definitive answer to this question, but the honest answer is that it depends. For instance, if you compete for highly competitive or broad keywords, target brand / competitor keywords, or operate with a limited budget, it’s unrealistic to aim for a very high search impression share. Instead, you identify your baseline by setting up proper tracking for search impression share across your campaigns and target the opportunities that you find.

How do I report on search impression share?

Reporting on search impression share outside of the Google Ads interface can be tricky. This is because the metric is delivered as a percentage value as opposed to an integer, which means that it’s not aggregatable. In addition, when the search impression share is lower than 10 percent or higher than 90 percent you do not get an exact figure via the API. Instead, you get “ less than 9.99 percent” or “ greater than 90 percent.”

In Funnel, users have been able to connect "non-aggregatable" reports that include search impression share for a few years, but due to the two factors mentioned above, it’s been quite difficult to work with and translate into reports and dashboards. Therefore, we have restructured the impression report to make it more user friendly, and we are really excited to share the results with you below.

How does Funnel help me report on search impression share?

As we mentioned in the start of the article, search impression share is a concept where you don’t need the absolute figure. Instead, you should be more focused on monitoring and reacting to long- and short-term trends.

With that in mind, Funnel uses the percentage metrics provided by Google and estimates what the underlying metric to calculate the percentage is. This has a significant advantage when it comes to reporting: The resulting metric can be aggregated and becomes more easy to work with.

To start reporting on search impression share in Funnel, do the following: 

1. Log in to your Funnel subscription and workspace.

2. Connect a new Google Ads data source.

3. Select “reported impression share” and the report type, report level and time window that you need. Selecting “standard,” “campaign,” and “one day” can provide you with a nice view when you are exploring possibilities.

Connect a data source to Funnel

4. Once the data has loaded, click the three dots next to the data source and select “show in Data Explorer.”

5. If you used the suggested selection above when connecting the data source, go to the field picker and select the dimensions “campaign” and “date” along with the six metrics “click share,” “search absolute top impression share,” “search impr. share,” “search lost is (budget),” “search lost is (rank),” and “search top impression share.”

Select dimensions and metrics

6. Depending on the number of campaigns you are running and the date range you have selected, this might generate quite a lot of rows. You can now start drilling down into specific campaigns and also use the the chart function for some visual aid. Once you have explored the data, you can set up a data share for whichever destination you are working with, send it to your reporting tool, and start building visualizations and benchmarks. 

Search impression share in Funnel

We hope you found this guide and the reworked report type for search impression share for Google Ads helpful. If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to get in touch with our support team or your designated contact at Funnel. 

Want to work smarter with your marketing data?
Discover Funnel