Varos Glossary

Impression Share

What is Impression Share

Impression Share is a metric that measures the performance of your ads with regards to visibility and reach. Expressed as a percentage, it weighs your current impressions against your potential impressions. The latter value is provided to you by Google, and is also known as Eligible Impressions.

Google provides several tools for tracking, monitoring and optimizing your impression share through your Google Ads account. You can view your Impression Share data under the Campaigns section of your dashboard. You can also leverage the Target Impression Share tool, which allows you to set a specific impression share percentage you want to achieve — the tool will then adjust your bids automatically. 

Why Should You Use Impression Share for Google Ads?

Tracking and measuring impression share allows you to not only assess how an ad is performing, but also determine why it's performing that way by answering the following questions: 

  • Visibility. How often is your ad being shown to your target audience? 
  • Optimization. In what ways is your ad not measuring up to its full potential, and how can you improve it? 
  • Competitor Analysis. How does your ad compare to other advertisements in the same market? 
  • Budget. Are you spending enough on your bids? How much more of your budget can you realistically dedicate to this ad? 
  • Benchmarking. How effective have your optimization efforts been thus far? 

Factors that can influence an ad's impression share include:

  • Keyword choice. 
  • Budget and bidding strategy. 
  • Quality Score.
  • Relevance. 
  • Targeting and personalization. 
  • Expected CTR
  • User experience on the associated website. 

Types of Impression Share

There are several different ways to measure and categorize your ad's impression share

Search Impression Share

Search impression share specifically pertains to the search engine results page (SERP). Usually, this means Google search results. However, search impression share can also apply to Google apps such as YouTube, Maps, and Shopping. In some cases, it may also be applicable to Google search partners. 

Search impression share is heavily influenced by your budget. The more you spend on a campaign, the higher your daily limit for impressions. Note, however, that more impressions does not necessarily mean your ad will be successful — a low-quality ad could feasibly achieve an impression share of 100 percent without having any noticeable impact on an organization's bottom line. 

Impression share for shopping campaigns is calculated similarly to search impression share.

Lost Impression Share

Lost impression share comes in two formats.

  • Lost Rank Impression Share is a competitive analysis tool. It shows you how many impressions an ad failed to receive because it ranked lower than a competing advertisement. By assessing why an ad has a higher rank than yours, you can identify potential improvements. 
  • Lost Budget Impression Share measures how many impressions an ad lost due to insufficient budget. 

Display Impression Share

Display impression share serves the same purpose as search impression share except that it applies to Google's Display Network rather than Google Search. The most effective way to leverage this metric is to gradually adjust your ad placements and budget, assessing the impact each adjustment has on your impressions. 

Impression Share Categories

Impression share can also be broken down along several categories, including: 

  • Keywords Matching (Exact, Phrase, Broad). 
  • Device Type.
  • Location.

Understanding the Impression Share Formula

You can contextualize impression share with metrics such as clickthrough rate, cost per click, and conversion rate to see firsthand the impact impressions have on your ad campaigns.

Fortunately, even though there are multiple types of impression share, they are all calculated through the same formula:

[Impressions Received/Total Available Impressions] * 100.

For instance, let's say you purchased an ad placement for which there were 10,000 placements available. Your ad achieved 4,500 impressions. The formula would therefore look like this:

[4500/10,000] * 100 = 45 percent impression share.

Ideally, you'll want to get as close to 100 percent as possible.