Target Impression Share Bidding: What We’ve Seen So Far

Google’s been rolling out more and more smart bidding strategies in the continual push toward campaign automation, and earlier this month they announced the latest automated bidding strategy — Target Impression Share. While initial automated bidding options focused on increasing conversions, revenue or clicks, Target Impression Share focuses on increasing brand awareness by helping you better control how often your ad shows up in auctions.

How Target Impression Share Bidding Works

Essentially, Google will adjust your keyword bids based on the Target Impression Share percentage you specify in conjunction with the page position and Max CPC bid you determine. You can opt into Target IS bidding at the campaign level or as a portfolio level strategy.

If you’re setting it up at the campaign level, simply click into your campaign settings, then click the ‘Bidding’ drop-down menu. From there, you can set it up through two different routes — you can either choose ‘Impression share’ in the ‘What do you want to focus on’ drop- down menu:

Or you can choose the blue link in the above screenshot to ‘Select a bid strategy directly’, then select ‘Target impression share’:

If you want to set up Target IS as a portfolio strategy, just select ‘Use a portfolio strategy’ from the second option above and go from there.

When to Use Target Impression Share Bidding

As the main goal of this strategy is to increase or stabilize visibility and brand awareness, a Brand campaign is likely the best candidate for Target IS bidding.

Here’s a handy chart from Google if you’re unsure which strategy you should test in your accounts:

Our Findings

We were able to get some of our accounts opted into this Beta early and rolled it out for testing to Brand campaigns in a couple of accounts. Our goals were the same for both campaigns but we saw some varying results.

Test Campaign 1: Strategy & Results

In the first campaign, our goal was to help curb the CPC and CPL which were trending too high by setting the Target Impression Share percentage at 90% which was a bit lower than where it had been trending for the campaign. Since reducing CPC and CPL was part of our goal, we chose ‘Anywhere on results page’ for where we wanted our ads to appear, and we set the Max CPC bid to a level that made sense for our account goals. Initial results showed what we expected, with decreases in CPC, CPL and Impression Share:

However, during this time, a key goal was maximizing conversion volume while trying to curb the CPLs. After reviewing the data above with our client, we determined that the lead loss was more than we wanted, so we agreed on a slightly higher CPL goal and we subsequently increased the Impression Share goal percentage up to 95%. After that change, however, CPC crept up even higher than the initial $1.63 up to $1.88 and CPL increased from $115 to $131 which was above the new CPL goal; Impression Share was right at the new 95% target.

Due to these fluctuations, we eventually reverted back to Manual CPC bidding for this campaign for the time being. Since the client is now focusing less on Impression Share and more on profitability we will look to possibly test a different strategy like Target CPA in the future.

Test Campaign 2: Strategy & Results

For the second campaign, our goal was the same as the first of trying to reduce the increasing CPC and CPL, so we rolled out the same strategy here. For this campaign, we also saw a decrease in those two metrics as well as a decrease in lead volume:

There are a couple interesting changes here. The first is that the Impression share actually increased after we implemented the Target IS bidding. We checked auction insights and one of our competitor’s impression share decreased by about 50% as did our Overlap rate. Additionally, our Outranking share increased from 88% to 94%.

Considering this competitor information in conjunction with the positive changes in CPC and CPL, as well as the lower volume in this campaign, we’ve decided to keep Target IS bidding running here to see how data looks over a longer timeframe.

In Conclusion

Target Impression Share bidding helped us accomplish our specific goals of decreasing CPCs and CPLs when kept at a lower Target IS of 90%, however, for our first test campaign we found the lead loss to be more than sustainable for our particular account, and the CPL increase once we tested a 95% Target IS to be too high. We will be curious to see how lead volume looks over time with more data in our second test campaign.

If you have a client who is focused on achieving a certain Impression Share number then this strategy could work well for you. Just keep in mind that you may have to try pulling different levers in your bid strategy settings during the testing period, as your campaign goals allow, such as adjusting your Target IS percentage, adjusting your max CPC bid or even your ad placement setting to help drive the results you’re looking for. Additionally, if you have a client who’s focused on capturing a high impression share you can also use this bidding method to help prove, or disprove, the viability of using impression share as a KPI in your account.

If you found this post helpful, you may also enjoy reading about Bing’s recent update to eCPC bidding.

Have you tested this bidding strategy? We’d love to hear your experience and tips in the comments below!