Google has added a great new tool to their Adwords platform – the ability to closely examine auctions for individual keywords to flesh out the competitive field. The tool is called ‘auction insights‘ and appears under the ‘keywords’ tab. To access auction insights for a specific keyword: look for any keywords with a little bar graph icon next to them, click the corresponding checkbox, drop down the ‘keyword details’ button, and click ‘auction insights.’  Only keywords that have accumulated enough data will have this function enabled.

The data Adwords provides for auction insights is both informative and valuable for any Adwords marketer.  The following columns are highlighted, with data from a list of competitor websites provided under each column:

Impression Share: Impression share percentage displays what each competitor (and yourself) has received as far as total impressions.  Essentially, it equals the total number of impressions the site received for the keyword, divided by the estimated number of impressions the site was eligible for.  This statistic is a great overview on how you are performing in your market – a low impression share means you aren’t bidding high enough, your budget is too low, or your keyword quality score isn’t up to par.

Average Position: Average position is pretty much what is says – the average ad position of each competitor for a specific keyword.

Overlap Rate: The percentage of overlap rate displays how often a competitor’s ad received an impression while your ad was also displaying during an auction.  This is a great statistic to determine who you are really competing with most often; the competitor with the highest overlap rate  is the site whose ads are going head-to-head with yours most often.   It would be a good idea to take a look at what kind of ad copy, site links, and discount deals this competitor is utilizing to determine how to get the better of them.

Position Above Rate: The position above percentage is closely related to overlap rate; it shows those same competitors whose ads were shown during the same auctions as yours.  This time though, the percentage is based on how often the competitor’s ad was shown at a higher position than your ad in an auction.

Top of Page Rate: The top of page percentage displays how often your ads and competitor ads were shown in the top 2-3 ad positions.

Overall, the auction insights tool can be utilized in conjunction with standard keyword statistics (CTR, CPC, Quality Score, Cost per Conversion, Avg. Position, etc.) to further help determine where you stand in your competitive market.  For campaigns that are having some trouble – perhaps not getting enough clicks, or with very low CTRs, this tool is a great way to help diagnose the problem and make some corrections.