The Importance of Impression Share


The often overwhelming and usually confusing barrage of jargon, initialisms, and acronyms that comes with a digital advertising investment (behavioral targeting, CPC, CPL, CTR, for example) can make even the biggest alphabet fans’ brains ache (LOL).

While overwhelming, your understanding of each of these metrics is key to the ownership and understanding of the efficacy of your digital advertising dollars. When it comes to paid search, perhaps there is no more critical metric than impression share, a term which should be committed to memory and is conveyed as a percentage figure.
Google defines search impression share as: The impressions you’ve received on the Search Network divided by the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive.
Let’s break that down: Say you have 15 percent impression share. That means for every 10 relevant search queries (automotive-focused, new car searches, lease deals, etc.) in your market area, your dealership only appears once or twice. While understanding all of the abbreviations for digital advertising might be hard, it isn’t difficult to understand that one tenth is not a good thing.
There are only TWO reasons you can have low impression share:
1. Your ads have poor ranking in the auction. Hopefully, your automotive advertising agency understands quality ad copy and does A/B testing to ensure your ads are the highest quality so this doesn’t happen to you.
2. You have insufficient advertising budget in the auction. If your budget is low, essentially your paddle was taken away at the auction block, meaning you’re not powerful enough to compete with the players in your local market area. Someone else is spending more and taking away your leads.
Want to see for yourself? Google gives you that functionality. Just go to, log in, and type in a relevant search query. Make sure to change the location to your market area and then hit “Preview.”

Where are you showing up?

At the top of the search engine results page? Great! You’ve probably got a high impression share with great traffic. Your paddle is clearly visible.
On the sidebar? Bummer. You’re much less visible to customers (and you’re actually at the bottom of the page on mobile/tablet devices). Hold that paddle higher!
Not showing up? Uh oh. Better get a paddle.
Annie Ode is Advertising Product Marketing Manager at