How to Avoid Lost Impression Share Due to Budget

While chatting recently with a colleague, we discussed a new client who was facing budget cuts and looking for ways to maintain traffic levels. When we reviewed the AdWords account performance, we noticed a lot of lost impression share due to budget.

Unfortunately, this problem is far too common and should rarely happen if your account is structured correctly. Let’s look at how to avoid lost impression share due to budget.

Impression Share 101

Impression share is a metric that represents the percentage of impressions where your ads were shown out of the total available impressions in your target market. For example, if your impression share is 50 percent, then your ads appeared to half of the available inventory.

Google buckets lose impression share in two ways: budget and rank. Lost impression share due to rank is less of a problem with the assumption that you set your bids to be the proper amounts to achieve your marketing goals. Lost impression share due to budget is less forgivable because your ads are being restricted due to the limited budget, and combined search volume of the keywords within the campaign.

Several optimizations can occur to better allow your best performing ads to breathe.

Reduce Bids/Pause Keywords

If you’re running out of budget, lowering bids is a basic easy to-do item, as is pausing keywords that are converting at a lower rate than other keywords.

Impression Share Example

This example lays out how this might work, especially in a scenario where there is more than enough search volume for your keywords. As the available inventory goes down you can expect your lost impression share number to drop and get shifted to lost impression share due to rank. These two are intertwined with each other, but testing the true variance is important to understand the drop off versus your incremental CPC savings — Google’s bid simulator attempts to do some of this for you.


If you’re running out of budget by 10 every morning, dayparting is a great way to focus your limited spend on specific parts of the day that convert the best. Consumers have different usage and conversion patterns by time of day and day of week.

Let’s look at an indexed heat map of conversion rates for a client:

Indexed Heat Map

You can clearly see where you would place the dollars that you have to spend if they were limited.

Campaign Structure

By altering the number of ad groups and keywords that are contained within each campaign, the greater the meaning behind the available metrics.

Too often, people are afraid to have one keyword in a campaign or ad group. If this keyword converts well, and is important to the overall performance of the campaign, don’t be shy — give that keyword its own campaign. This way you have visibility into impression share numbers for that campaign, and can control budget, geo-targeting, and distribution (network versus Google only). These metrics can provide the insight into better performance and traffic.

There will almost always be scenarios where you don’t have unlimited budgets for all the available search volume. However, knowing these few tricks can ensure that you use the money you have to capture the maximum volume possible for your best performing keywords, and always remember to let your best performing keywords get as much exposure as possible.

Join us for SES San Francisco August 16-20, 2010 during ClickZ’s Connected Marketing Week. The festival is packed with sessions covering PPC management, keyword research, search engine optimization (SEO), social media, ad networks and exchanges, e-mail marketing, the real time web, local search, mobile, duplicate content, multiple site issues, video optimization, site optimization and usability, while offering high-level strategy, keynotes, an expo floor with 100+ companies, networking events, parties and more!

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