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Understand Your Google Shopping Competition With Auction Insights

Phil Turicik

Hidden away in the AdWords dashboard, the Auction Insights report delivers a comprehensive overview of the competitive landscape in Google Shopping.

We’ve suggested myriad tools and strategies savvy e-commerce marketers can use to optimize their Shopping campaigns. But no campaign exists in a vacuum. Every retail business has competitors, and these rival sellers can influence Google Shopping outcomes.

A look at your Auction Insights report will highlight who these competitors are — and show how your campaign stacks up to theirs.

Where to Find It

First things first. If you’ve never glimpsed at the Auction Insights report, you’ll find it by clicking the Details drop-down in your campaign overview in AdWords.

AdWords Details Dropdown

Choose to show data for your Shopping campaigns on the menu on the next page: 

Show data for Google Shopping in auction insights report

AdWords will display insights for the last 30 days. You can also adjust the date range to get an idea of how the report changes at different times of the year. Events such as the end-of-year holidays or the back-to-school season can shake up the competitive landscape.

Understand Your Google Shopping Competition with Auction Insights

In this example from a sample Sidecar client, you will see that the Auction Insights report is divided into three columns: Impression Share; Overlap Rate; and Outranking Share.

Below, we’ll define these columns and explore how to interpret each one.

Impression Share

What is it? Impression Share is the first metric that hyper-competitive e-commerce marketers consult in Auction Insights. Impression Share is simply the number of impressions your Shopping ads received, divided by the total estimated number of impressions you were eligible for, expressed as a percentage. You can also see this metric for your largest competitors in this column.

Google does not assign official Quality Scores to Shopping ads — a primary determinant of eligibility in text campaigns. However, the Google algorithm considers overall quality and relevance when determining whether one of your product ads is eligible to appear for a query.

How to use it in Shopping campaigns? Impression Share will help you determine who your biggest competitors are on Google Shopping. You probably have a general idea of who they might be, but the biggest competitors you encounter in Google Shopping might surprise you. Some smaller, lesser-known businesses may devote 100% of their budget to the Shopping channel.

Impression Share can function like a radar, alerting you to new entrants or established competitors who are being more (or less) aggressive with their bids. Say the CPC for your Shopping campaign suddenly rises. You can use Impression Share to uncover whether a previously unknown retailer — or a known rival — spending big is responsible.

Your business, the competitive landscape, and your unique return goals determine an ideal Impression Share.

And if a lower Impression Share gets your heart pounding, remember that there’s no glory in ratcheting up bids just to achieve an impression share of 100%. This will hurt your efficiency.

Instead, try segmenting your products into different campaigns based on how much exposure you want each type to get, or filter search query traffic (ex: branded vs. non-brands) into different campaigns and go after impression share goals that way.

Your business, the competitive landscape, and your unique return goals determine an ideal Impression Share. If you’re up against deep-pocketed competitors like Amazon or Wal-Mart, an Impression Share of 10% might be right for your campaign, provided you are driving revenue efficiently.

Overlap Rate

What is it? Overlap Rate means how frequently another brand’s ad surfaces alongside yours in the Shopping carousel. In the example above, Jet.com’s Shopping ads overlap with our sample client’s ads 16.20% of the time.

How to use it in Shopping campaigns? Overlap Rate can be a frustrating statistic because there’s little you can do to alter it. Google’s algorithms determine which ads surface for each query. The plethora of retailers in the space bidding competitively all but guarantees your ads won’t be alone.

Keep in mind that Google Shopping results feature more available slots than text ads, and accept that monopolizing Google Shopping real estate can be difficult and costly.

Outranking Share

What is it? Fire up your calculators, folks. Outranking Share is the number of times your ad outranked a competitor’s in the same auction, plus the number of times one of your ads appeared and theirs did not, divided by the total number of auctions in which you participated. Phew…  

In plain English? Outranking Share measures the percentage of occasions when your ads outrank various competitors in Shopping.

How to use it in Shopping campaigns? Outranking Share interests competitive marketers seeking dominance in their industries. And, really, who doesn’t want to be on top?

Similar to Impression Share, Outranking Share highlights your biggest competitors in Shopping. And like Impression Share, you could (theoretically) jack up bids to increase it. But the optimal way to use Outranking Share is to consider it within the context of your overall campaign performance.

As long as you’re achieving your revenue targets within your campaign’s efficiency goals, then there’s little concern about a few competitors outranking you. And if your CPC unexpectedly jumps, Outranking Share will help you determine if it’s due to a profligate competitor.

There you have it. The three tabs of your campaign’s Auction Insights report provide a wealth of information about your campaign’s competitive performance that you can use to boost performance over time.

One parting thought: Don’t treat Auction Insights as a day-to-day dataset. In fact, there’s a one day delay before a given day’s data even makes it into the report.

You might be tempted to peek at Auction Insights whenever you pull up AdWords. But checking in monthly, or even quarterly will suffice.

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