Clarity Pt.3 – Missing Clicks

Paid Search Managers spend a lot of time analyzing clicks. Which keywords got them? Did they convert? How much did they cost? But how much time is spent thinking about the clicks you didn’t get? How much information do you have about those clicks anyway? Earlier in this series I’ve discussed the idea that paid search marketers have a tough time getting a full and clear picture of what’s really going on in their accounts with the information currently provided by the engines, analytics programs, and PPC tools. The last few posts discussed the lack of search query details as one example. Gaining insight into missing clicks is another. Two Ways To Lose There are two types of clicks you didn’t get. The first are those reflected in your click-through-rate; clicks that didn’t happen when your ad was shown. The count of these can be easily seen by comparing your impression count with the click count for any keyword. The second type of missed click are those where the query was relevant (or interesting) to you but your ad wasn’t displayed. As Steve Forbert once said: (although I don’t think he was the first) you cannot win if you do not play. Tracking Missed Impressions Google has provided a series of Impression Share Metrics for over a year now, which provide important insights into the click missed because ad weren’t even displayed.

  • Impression Share (IS): The percentage of times your ads were shown out of the total available impressions in the market you were targeting. This metric is available at the campaign and account level for search.
  • Impression Share Exact Match. Impression Share Exact Match reports the impression share of your campaigns as if your keywords were set to ExactMatch.
  • Lost IS. Your impression share + Lost IS (Budget) + Lost IS (Rank) = 100%.
  • Lost IS (Rank): The percentage of impressions lost due to low Ad Rank (cost-per-click bid x Quality Score).
  • Lost IS (Budget): The percentage of impressions lost due to budget constraints.

These are informative and critical reports. You should always know the IS numbers for your campaigns. There are times you can accept a low Impression Share, and times when you cannot. It’s too bad it takes a trip into the reporting environment (or setting up an email report) to get them rather than having them ‘in line’ with other reporting metrics. More importantly, this data is only available at the Campaign level, and we could really use it at the Ad-Group level. When you have a large campaign with many Ad-Groups is very possible that some have great Impression Share and a few have lousy Impression Share (or that the reasons why the number is what it is differ between Ad-Groups) and the Campaign-level roll up is of limited use. In a future post we’ll dig deeper into the meaning and applications of these numbers. Tracking Missed Clicks There is less information, ironically, delivered about the clicks you miss when your ads do appear. There are many reasons people don’t click (see this post for a good list). Many could not be translated into paid search metrics without qualitative research. But there more information that could be shared about these lost clicks. For example, average click-through rates and various positions are known, both in absolute and relative terms. Given your position of your ads, how many more or less clicks occurred than should have been expected at that position? And exactly how many clicks would each higher position garner, or lower position lose? This could be predicted with some degree of accuracy. Since text-ads have their own click-through-rates, which have a massive effect on the CTR’s of keywords, another option is to look at which text-ads were displayed and calculate the number of clicks a keyword would have received if the best of them (CTR-wise) had run all the time. So with a little work doing some calculations around the position and text-ad running for a keyword, we could start to know what our potential keyword CTR could be, if we just improved our position performance and text-ad copy. Not Perfectly Clear Paid search is the pursuit of clicks. The right clicks at the right price. A clear picture of a paid search campaign would therefore tell us a lot about the clicks we got, and the clicks we didn’t get. Google’s Impression Share is a great start – it delivers actionable information and with the sub-metrics starts to break the main one apart so we can see how different factors are contributing to the remaining click opportunity. Impression share needs to go mainstream – into the normal dynamic Adwords reports and the API. And a comparable level of visibility should be given to the clicks we get and don’t get once our ad has been displayed.

  • How much better could our CTR have been?
  • How many clicks were missed because we under-performed our position?
  • How many more were available at higher positions?
  • How many were missed because text-ads were under-performing? (Within the text-ad itself, was it the headline or target URL that dragged us down?).
  • Was there a specific competitor who took more share from us than another, over time?

These are just some of the things we should be able to know about our clicks.



The First Machine Learning Marketing Platform
Built to Scale Search for Local Resellers & Agencies

Automate, optimize and track more campaigns, more profitably.