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New adCenter Metric Launched: Share of Voice

adcenter logoadCenter recently launched Share of Voice (SOV) metrics to their standard reports. SOV reporting helps advertisers optimize PPC campaigns by providing information about how often they are earning impressions; for example, when the ad is placed on the first page in the auction.

In general, if you have a high SOV, you have an opportunity to expand into related terms and if you have a low SOV, you have an opportunity to improve performance on your existing terms. Let’s take a look at some recommended actions to take based on the new SOV reports.

My Take: I remember when we had to do PPC with absolutely zero data about search volume, trends, etc. We have come a long way now that we have detailed Impression Share data within our PPC accounts. This is a welcome addition to the onslaught of features adCenter has been adding to the platform over the past few months.

While adCenter is a bit behind AdWords on timing in general, they are also pushing the envelope when they do launch similar features. With this feature, they increase the fidelity of the reports compared to AdWords, by adding more detail about the reasons behind lost SOV. I get really excited when I think about what this pace of innovation looks like after they are done catching up to AdWords…

Overview: Share Of Voice

adCenter Share of Voice (SOV) metrics are live now. You can get overall SOV down to the ad group level, and they’ll tell you what percentage of your SOV is lost to either: budget, rank, bid, keyword relevance, or landing page relevance. Just customize a standard report at the account, campaign, or ad group level to get the metrics.

Metrics are only available with the Daily Report View (which is why they are greyed out if you try one of the other Report Views, like Summary, weekly, etc.).

Taking Action

Acting on SOV reports takes some consideration on the advertiser’s part. While at first glance they may not be as directly actionable as changing bids based on a keyword performance report, or adding keywords and negatives based on a search query report, SOV reports give you information about where and how to focus your optimization efforts.

One rule of thumb that I’ll share with anybody who will listen at adCenter or AdWords: Give us metrics for anything we can optimize, and let us optimize anything we can measure. Mercifully, SOV reports give us good metrics about things we can optimize.

What Is Share Of Voice (SOV)?

I had the opportunity to speak directly with Lucy Wang, a Product Manager on the adCenter team responsible for Share of Voice Metrics. She defines Share of Voice like this:

“Share of Voice represents the percentage of times your ads were actually shown in relation to the total number of chances your ads could have been shown, based on your keyword and campaign settings. It provides quantified insight into what your impression share is, and more importantly, the reasons why you lost certain impressions, allowing you to take precise action.”

To clarify a common misconception: SOV is not a measure of your impressions versus the total search volume for the keywords in your ad group (or campaign, or account). It is a measure of the impressions versus the search volume left over after considering your campaign settings (budget, targeting, etc.), and your rank, bids, and relevance.

By the way, Share of Voice and Impression Share are virtually interchangeable in this context. adCenter refers to this feature as Share of Voice, but uses Impression Share in the names of the metrics in their reports.

What Is A Good SOV?

There is no really good or single answer to this question. You will have to answer this for yourself. Every marketplace and advertiser will have different references for good and bad SOV.

My recommendation would be to simply take a baseline, check that it is either consistent across your account (or find out how it differs along meaningful divisions in your account) then improve it.

High SOV

When your SOV is comparatively high, you are already maximizing your ability to generate traffic for these terms, given your campaign settings. Assuming your performance and ROI justify it, this would be a good place to start to expand. Try additional keywords, or expand your geo-targeting and/or scheduling to try to attract more traffic, even if it is less relevant.

Remember, lowering your SOV is not necessarily a bad thing – it just means you are reaching into areas where you are not as relevant. That could be a good thing if the performance is still there. You can find the balance that is right for your business by experimenting with the limits.


All by itself, low SOV is not a very actionable metric; it is more like a summary to help you find where to dig in. Take a look at the details to find more actionable information.

Impression Share Lost To Budget

This is perhaps the most directly-actionable source of lost impression share. For direct advertisers, increasing budget is usually not an issue as long as ROI is within range. Assuming your performance metrics are within tolerable bounds, increase your budget and you will grow (hopefully, profitably).

Rule of Thumb: If you are spending less than a dollar to earn a dollar, why would you ever stop?

Even if you are truly limited by a budget, you may still have an opportunity to optimize. Remove, pause, bid-down, or reduce budget on your bottom-performers and spend more budget on your winners (by increasing budgets, bids, or both). Even brand advertisers can optimize, based on CTR, for example.

Rule of thumb: Use keyword bidding to manage budget. Use budget settings to manage risk.

Impression Share Lost To Rank

This is the first indication that you have some optimization to do. Rank is generally a combination of your Bid and Relevance, so at first glance we might expect this to be a composite score.

However, when you look at the numbers, this is an independent contributor to your overall lost Impression Share. They all add up to 100%. Skipping ahead a bit, the only place left to optimize would be your ads. Focus on your ad relevance and CTR if you are losing is due to Rank.

Impression Share Lost To Bid

This is pretty straightforward. Your ad is relevant compared to your competition, but suffered because your bid was not competitive. The direct action to take would be to increase your bid, assuming your performance and business can justify it.

However, assuming your bidding is already optimal for your business goals, then what do you do?

I think this is the one SOV metric that I’d be willing to live with long-term. If you can’t afford it, then you can’t afford it. Go focus on building the conversion value of your business, or expand elsewhere.

Of course, this also means that some other businesses out there are able to spend more money on these keywords than you are. Assuming they behave rationally; they are either better at monetizing, or more efficient in their business process, or both.

Impression Share Lost To Landing Page Relevance

This one seems pretty straightforward, but tends to be a challenge for many PPC Advertising efforts. Landing page Relevance might not currently be in your control – but it is in somebody’s control. If you don’t have a better landing page, then find a way to make one.

adCenter’s help is actually quite specific about what will improve your landing page relevance score:

The only thing I would add would be to make sure you are making new landing pages (or dynamically customizing them) for each meaningful group of keywords in your account. For most accounts, that means at least one distinct landing page per ad group.

Rule of Thumb: If you can write unique ad copy, or send to a unique landing page, then you should make a unique ad group.

Impression Share Lost To Keyword Relevance

This is a sure sign that you should be looking at your Search Query reports and looking for negatives. You may also need to delete underperforming keywords, or move them to other ad groups. You may also benefit from adding any search queries you are matching for, as keywords on Exact match.

If you weren’t already aware of this, adCenter has a distinct preference for Exact match. If you have a keyword running on phrase or broad match, the same keyword on exact match will be eligible for more search queries that are exact matches for your keyword. (Think about that carefully. Yes, it is accurately stated.)

Once again, the adCenter Support Center offers a good reference for addressing this issue specifically:

What’s Next

Like most aspects of PPC, Share of Voice is not a “set it and forget it” metric. You should be balancing the time you spend in your account based on SOV against the value you are deriving from it. That is Return on Time Spent, which is another article altogether:

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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