What is Impression Share and Why is it Important?

The importance of impression share has rarely been discussed, mostly because many people do not know about it. Impression share is a sort of metric included in Google AdWords that shows how often a particular advertisement shows up in search results. Sometimes people wonder why their ads are not showing up, despite proper placement and search engine optimization. For some people, it happens all the time. Their advertising campaigns fail because their advertisements never seem to come up.

This information is especially valuable for those running pay-per-click advertisements. Reading the impression share chart is simple. If the report indicates fifty percent, that means that fifty percent of people searching see the ad. Clearly, advertisers want that number to be much, much higher.

There are three steps to improving impression share metrics. The first step is finding out how to get them. The next step is finding out what they mean. The last step is finding ways to drive that Impression Share up to respectable levels.

It is easy to find these impression share metrics. Simply go to the reports tab in your Adwords account and build a report on your campaign. If you still cannot see it just make sure that the fields IS, Lost IS (rank) and exact match IS are included. This will make sure that all relevant data is presented. Understanding them is somewhat straightforward. However, knowing what to do with that data or interpreting that data can be difficult.

Lost IS (Budget and Rank)

  • Lost IS (Budget): Advertisements can only come up if the advertiser can afford to pay for it to be shown. This is not indicative of how well a campaign is going. It, however, is indicative of how much money should be spent on the campaign. For example, an ad that is consistently shown except for budgetary constraints obviously needs more support, as it is doing well. On the other hand, an advertisement that is doing well but is well over-budget could do with a little less money, which could be spent elsewhere or on another advertising campaign.
  • Lost IS (Rank): This is when an advertisement does not come up because it lacks a combination of a high enough bid and a quality score. The bid is easily rectified – more money means that it gets a greater rank and can be shown over other competing advertisements. Quality score, on the other hand, is influenced by a number of things, including first page bids and actual cost per click. It can only be managed sufficiently by an expert.


There are a number of direct benefits to be had from paid search management and understanding impression share metrics. Proper search management can make sure that that advertising campaigns go smoothly. A bad advertising campaign can lead to immense losses with no visible or worthwhile gain.

For one thing, understanding impression share metrics can allow a company to plan their advertising campaign more accurately. Advertisers can figure out how dominant their pay-per-click advertising campaign truly is when it comes down to the bottom line. Impression share metrics can give people a very real idea of where their advertising campaign is going. It is recommended that people look at their results daily to get a much better idea of how it is going.

Another benefit to understanding impression share metrics is that advertisers will know what works and what does not. Knowing when an advertisement is showing up will allow advertisers to more accurately manage or target their campaigns. This can save them a lot of time and effort. For example, they can target their advertisements to only show when their store is open, making sure that no customers are disappointed.

Profit is another simple but very important benefit of having a proper understanding of impression share metrics. The more people see an ad, the greater the odds that someone will click on it. As these odds improve, more customers will start frequenting the business being advertised. Reaching more customers is always a good thing. Not everyone who sees the ad will click, but those who have never seen the ad will most definitely never click.

The most important benefit of understanding impression shares is having knowledge of data and trends that would otherwise escape the average advertiser. It can answer a very important question: “just how much money can someone make from this campaign?”

What to Do About It?

Impression shares only give a glimpse of the campaign at the campaign level. That means that depending on how the campaign is run, these impression share metrics might not actually be a worthwhile study. However, when they are important, they are extremely important. Impression share metrics help users figure out just what is going on with their advertising campaign. This can allow for greater control over the entire effort. However, it is not an easy thing to do, it requires skill and expertise.