On February 26th, Google officially announced that it will sunset its paid-search average position metric in September 2019. This is the most significant change seen in search advertising in years.
Many brands are now wondering how this will impact their costs, presence and prominence, and efficiency on the search engine results page This change could create widely different results for advertisers, if not planned properly, resulting in big winners and losers come September (and the holiday period) 2019.
Google’s rationale is that it does not believe this metric contributes much value for understanding prominence. As such, Google introduced four new metrics for prominence (Absolute Top Impression Rate, Top Impression Rate, Absolute Top Impression Share, and Top Impression Share). This, however, is a very limited view, focused only on prominence.
Many of us who grew up learning the inner workings of search engine marketing (SEM) and associated deep analytics believe other factors must be considered.
Shorter-term, advertisers can expect to see major variances in cost-per-click (CPCs), as well as noticeable changes in competition level on search terms -- especially for prominent positions. Tentpole events (Black Friday, Cyber Monday, The Super Bowl) will likely see the greatest impact.
Branding campaigns -- generally focused on position goals -- could be affected. If you are a CPG advertiser, OEM, retailer, telco carrier or any other business with a physical disconnect between search and the point-of-sale, it's likely you will have to increase your cost disproportionately pushing for a higher impression share, without a corresponding increase in attributed sales.
Preparation prior to September 2019 will be crucial to avoid variances and maintain the efficiency of your campaigns.
Advertisers who are prepared will be at a distinct advantage, compared to those who convert to the new model without fully accounting for the new auction dynamics:
It’s critical that brands keep overall performance objectives at heart, no matter what changes Google or any other publisher makes. By taking an objective perspective in your reaction to such changes, you can preserve your performance while continuing to scale your marketing campaigns.