About ad position and Ad Rank

Ad position is the order in which your ad shows up on a page. For example, an ad position of '1' means that your ad has the highest position on the page relative to the other ads of the same type. It doesn't necessarily mean that your ad is above the search results. If there are no ads above the search results, then it means that your ad is the first ad shown beneath search results. In general, it's good to have your ad appear higher on a page because it's probable that more customers will see your ad.

Ads can appear at the top or bottom of a search results page. You can find out about how your ads are stacking up by checking your average position.

Before you start

Bear in mind that “average position” is a metric best suited for checking your progress on the Search Network. Because of the diversity of websites on the Display Network, average position may be less useful for optimising for display performance.

How ad position is determined

Elements of Ad Rank

The ad auction is how Google decides which ads to show and how they're positioned. 

AdWords calculates Ad Rank for every ad in the auction. Ad Rank determines your ad position and whether your ads are eligible to show at all. Generally speaking, the ad with the highest Ad Rank gets to show in the top position and the ad with the second-highest Ad Rank gets to show in the second position (assuming the ads clear the relevant thresholds), and so on. At a high level, think of Ad Rank as having five factors:

  1. Your bid – When you set your bid, you're telling AdWords the maximum amount that you're willing to pay for a click on your ad. How much you actually end up paying is often less, and you can change your bid at any time.
  2. The quality of your ads and landing page – AdWords also looks at how relevant and useful your ad and the website it links to are to the person who'll see it. Our assessment of the quality of your ad is summarised in your Quality Score, which you can monitor – and work to improve – in your AdWords account.
  3. The Ad Rank thresholds – To help ensure high quality ads, we set minimum thresholds that an ad must achieve to show in a particular ad position.
  4. The context of the person’s search – With the ad auction, context matters. When calculating Ad Rank, we look at the search terms that the person has entered, the person’s location at the time of the search, the type of device that they’re using (e.g. mobile or desktop), the time of the search, the nature of the search terms, other ads and search results that show on the page and other user signals and attributes.
  5. The expected impact from your ad extensions and other ad formats – When you create your ad, you have the option to add additional information to your ad, such as a phone number, or more links to specific pages on your site. These are called ad extensions. AdWords estimates how extensions and other ad formats that you use will impact your ad's performance.

Example

Assume five advertisers are competing for a maximum of four ad positions above search results on the Google search results page. The respective Ad Rank of each of the advertisers is, say, 80, 50, 30, 10 and 5.

If the minimum Ad Rank necessary to show above the search results is, say, 40, only the first two advertisers (with Ad Ranks of 80 and 50) exceed the minimum and show above the search results.

If the minimum Ad Rank necessary to show below the search results is 8, then two of the three remaining advertisers (with Ad Ranks of 30 and 10) will show beneath the search results. The advertiser with an Ad Rank of 5 didn’t meet the minimum Ad Rank and so won’t show at all.

For the purposes of the Average Position metric, the advertiser with an Ad Rank of 80 (in the first position above search results) will get position 1, the advertiser with Ad Rank of 50 (in the second position above search results) will get position 2, the advertiser with an Ad Rank of 30 (in the first position below search results) will get position 3 and the advertiser with an Ad Rank of 10 (in the second position below search results) will get position 4. 'Position' therefore refers to an advertiser’s order in the auction, not a specific location on the search results page. So even though two of the four available ad positions above search results (the positions immediately below the advertisers with Ad Ranks of 80 and 50) were left empty, the next two advertisers in the ranking (the advertisers with Ad Ranks of 30 and 10) receive positions 3 and 4 for purposes of Average Position.

To improve your ad position, you can:

  • Increase your bid
  • Improve the quality of your ads and landing page experience

Better ads mean better Ad Rank

Every time someone does a search that triggers an ad that competes in an auction, we calculate an Ad Rank. This calculation incorporates your bid and auction-time measurements of expected CTR, ad relevance and landing-page experience, among other factors. To determine the auction-time quality components, we look at a number of different factors. By improving the following factors you can help to improve the quality components of your Ad Rank:
  • Your ad's expected click-through rate: This is based in part on your ad's historical clicks and impressions (adjusting for factors such as ad position, extensions and other formats that may have affected the visibility of an ad that someone previously clicked).
  • Your ad’s relevance to the search: How relevant your ad is to what a person searches for
  • The quality of your landing page: How relevant, transparent and easy-to-navigate your page is

Why ad quality matters

The quality components of Ad Rank are used in several different ways and can affect the following things:
  • Ad auction eligibility: Our measures of ad quality help determine the Ad Rank thresholds for your ad, and therefore whether your ad is qualified to appear at all.
  • Your actual cost per click (CPC): Higher quality ads can often lead to lower CPCs. This means that you pay less per click when your ads are higher quality.
  • Ad position: Higher quality ads often lead to higher ad positions, meaning that they can show up higher on the page.
  • Eligibility for ad extensions and other ad formats: Ad Rank determines whether or not your ad is eligible to be displayed with ad extensions and other ad formats, such as sitelinks.
In a nutshell, higher quality ads typically lead to lower costs, better ad positions and more advertising success. The AdWords system works best for everybody – advertisers, customers, publishers, and Google – when the ads that we show are relevant, closely matching what customers are looking for. 
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