This article will explain what happened to the average position, and will also discuss the metric that is replacing it.
Average position is retiring from Google Ads on September 30th, 2019. Replacing the average position will be Impression (Absolute Top) % and
Impression (Top) %. Along with these two metrics, they have also added search top and absolute top impression share, and search lost top and absolute top impression share.
What's the difference?
The average position gives a numerical value of the current ad position on the search results page. For example, if an ad's average position is 1.7, it would be between the 1st and 2nd positions on the search results page.
Impression (Absolute Top) % and Impression (Top) %, however, display the percent of how often your advertisement appears at the top and absolute top of the page.
Why is Google doing this?
Google Ads states that these new metrics give you a much clearer view of where your advertisement places on the search results page more than the average page does.
Google believes that the new metrics are more accurate because of how advertisements displayed on the search results page are constantly changing.
With average position, the number can become confusing, especially if your ad is served before or after the organic search results.
The clarity of where the advertisements would show became less clear as layout changes continued to occur
Google Ads has also been pushing its users towards using its automated bidding system
Google wants to place your ad where it would receive the most conversions rather than having you attempt to be at the top of the search results page
They also believe that the automated bidding system is more cost-effective and will receive more clicks than one normally would if they were simply at the top
When users focus on the placement ranking of their advertisement and focus their bidding on these rankings it could cause their advertisement to actually receive a lower impression share percentage than higher.
This result is due to the higher bids. When you bid higher, you are eligible for auctions and your website might not meet the threshold qualifications for those search results placements
The average position only gave users the knowledge that the advertisement would be shown before all others rather than where it was shown.
The advertisement could have been shown at the top of the page, or it could have been shown on the right side if those advertisements did not meet the threshold qualifications (until Google no longer began showing these advertisements on the right side)
It also was not clear whether the position of the advertisement was going to be above or below the organic results.
Position 4 could mean that the advertisement is fourth above the organic results or fourth below the organic results
What do I do now?
If you have previously used average position to impact your bidding, it is a good opportunity to shift over to the new metrics. Making the transition will help you become more acquainted with the new metrics and with time, you will be able to better analyze the data to make better bids (or try out the automated bidding system)!