Did you know that you can now see which competitors your ads are up against in the Google ad auction within AdWords?

The new Auction Insight report is currently only available for keywords that have the little graph icon next to them () and can be found within the Keywords tab in Google AdWords. The report shows a list of the display URL domains of the ads competing in the same auctions as your ads, plus information about Impression share, Average position, Overlap rate, Position above rate and Top of page rate.

This data allows you to see who your ads are up against, how often your ads appear in comparison to those competitors and how often your competitors’ ads ranked above yours within a chosen time frame.

In order to run the report you must be within the Keywords tab of Google AdWords and find a keyword with the graph icon beside it (this icon indicates that the keyword meets the minimum threshold of activity during your chosen time period to be able to have this data available). Then check the box next to the keyword, click the “keyword details” drop down and click the “Auction Insights (single keyword only)” option. This then takes you through to a report with the following headings:

Each column represents the following:

  • Impression Share refers to how often the ad received an impression, as a percentage of the number of auctions in which it was also competing. It is “the percentage of impressions that you received divided by the estimated number of impressions that you were eligible to receive. Eligibility is based on your current ads’ targeting settings, approval statuses, bids and Quality Scores.”
  • The Overlap rate is how often another ad received an impression when your ad also received an impression.
  • The Position above rate is how often another ad was shown in a higher position on the page than yours was, when they both received an impression in the same auction.
  • And Top of page rate how often an ad appeared at the top of the page above the search results when it received an impression.

Whilst this report is very useful to see the display URLs of the websites that your ads are up against and data about how often your ads appear compared to them, it does not reveal which keywords your competitors are bidding on or information about their CPC bids, quality score or CTR.

It only reveals what you could already see if you searched on Google to find which ads are appearing alongside your own, (but obviously in a lot more detail as it would be extremely difficult to collect all these stats yourself).

It also gives advertisers an idea about who appears to be bidding more aggressively and has larger budgets if one or two sites have higher average positions and a much larger impression share than yourself.

The cynics will argue that this is just another way for Google to encourage advertisers to increase their CPC bids and daily budgets to try and beat their competitors to higher ad positions and impression share.

What would be more useful would be greater insight into the quality score given to some ads. More feedback about why the ‘Expected click-through rate’, ‘Ad relevance’ and ‘Landing page experience’ of a keyword are classed as ‘average’ or ‘below average’. This would allow advertisers to make changes to their keywords, ads and landing pages that didn’t just require spending more money.

What do you think?