Brad Geddes / PPC Geek
Official Google Ads Seminar Leader.
Author of Advanced Google AdWords.
Co-Founder, Adalysis.
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Brad Geddes's Theories on Marketing AdWords Position Preference Doesn’t Always Work

AdWords Position Preference Doesn’t Always Work

Overall, I’ve been pleased with position preference. Used in conjunction with Google Analytics; one can see the ROI of a keyword by position.

That’s powerful information to know. Do you need to be in the top positing as your offer depends on immediate response? Does your ad do well at the bottom of the page due to comparison shoppers? Do you just need to be in the middle of the page for branding reinforcement?

Whatever the answer is, if you want you ad to appear in a particular position – it’s pretty easy to do with Google AdWords.

Or is it?

The below quote is from AdWordsAdvisor2 (who I know personally, and understands many of the technical details with AdWords) in a WebmasterWorld thread that went largely unnoticed.

The lower limit on position preference is a hard limit, but the upper limit is not. The system will try and hold to the upper limit defined in your preferences, but we couldn’t make it a hard limit. In the unlikely scenario that the ads that would normally compete for the top few positions all had upper limits of position 4, for example, having that upper limit be a hard stop would cause issues for the auction.


For example, if there are 10 people with position preference turned on, and their top position is all 4, then if Google followed that ad serving, there would be 0 ads as no one wanted the top 3 spots.

I think in this case, its more important to inform than complain. If I were Google, in this instance, I’d do the same thing – serve the ads – don’t just serve a blank page.

So, advertisers, you’ve been informed. The bottom limit of position preference is a hard limit – the upper limit might not be.

No Comments

  1. Ron Drabkin
    January 25, 2007 at 12:10 pm ·

    Just curious, I saw something around position preference, was it a bug? Anyone see anything similar?

    Had a customer who had position preference 1-3, was fine, one day turned on the budget optimizer, which cut max cpcs in half, and impresions decreased by 99% immediately.
    I took her budget optimizer off a couple of weeks later, and impressions *didn’t* come back.
    (nothing like geotargetting etc either messing up things).
    So created a new campaign, duplicate, without budget optimizer, impressions came back.
    All I could think was budget optimizer and position preference were interacting poorly.

  2. Brad Geddes aka eWhisper
    January 28, 2007 at 12:51 pm ·

    Ron –
    First off, budget optimizer is not compatible with position preference and ad scheduling.

    When turning on budget optimizer, Google should have given you a warning that it would turn off some advanced features.

    However, bugs happen, and I’m guessing that something didn’t get turned off/on correctly thus causing the problem you saw.