Brad Geddes / PPC Geek
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Author of Advanced Google AdWords.
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Brad Geddes's Theories on Marketing Google AdWords Launches New Tool – Allows Advertisers to Control...

Google AdWords Launches New Tool – Allows Advertisers to Control Ad Position

Google AdWords has released a new feature called Position Preference. This feature lets you specify which position you’d like your ad to be displayed.

Basically, if you specify a position, a few things will happen when someone searches for your keywords:

  • The typical Ad Rank auction is run behind the scenes to determine preference.
  • If your Ad Rank is higher than is necessary to be in your desired position, Google automatically adjusts your max CPC (behind the scenes) to be what is necessary in the CPC x QS (quality score) formula for your ad to show in that position.
  • If your ad falls into the current position, then your bid won’t be changed.
  • If your Ad Rank is not high enough for your ad to be displayed in that position, then your ad will not be displayed at all.
  • The feature is not compatible with ‘budget optimizer’. Therefore, you can only use one of those two features.
  • The feature will not be available to starter accounts.

The new setting should go live for most accounts within the next two weeks. Some accounts will see the new feature much sooner. When your account is opted into this new setting, then you will have a new setting on your campaign preferences page called ‘Ad Position’. It’s a simple checkbox that leads to a confirmation page with instructions on inputting these positions.

If you navigate to an AdGroup, check the words you want to modify, and hit ‘Edit CPC’s/URL’ you’ll be taken to a page that looks like this:

The position preferences are incremental numbers from 1-10 (i.e. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc) and 10+.

Enter the range you wish the ad to be displayed and hit save – all done.

The change to the AdGroup structure, which included the ‘settings’ tab, was to enable this feature and a couple other really nice ones that should be announced within the next few weeks.

Google has also changed the power post feature as seen below, so that Ad Position can now easily be modified on a mass scale:

If you can’t read the last line above, which is the power post example it is:


where #2-3 is the power post rule for position preference.

It is important to note that it’s possible your ad will occasionally show one level above your desired preference (i.e. if your preference is 3-5, it’s possible for you to show in position 2 on occasion); however, you will never show below your desired position. Therefore, it’s easy to set rules that will never trigger your ad. Be careful when enacting this rule to ensure that your ad is appearing, and that you’re not targeting a position that your ad doesn’t have the necessary Ad Rank to be displayed.

Overall, a great feature. The most common applications I expect to see for this is:

  • Brand advertisers who want to be shown in position 1-3 or not at all.
  • eCommerce sites who are seeing better conversions in position 3-5 (which is common).
  • Sophisticated advertisers who have narrowed down conversions by time of day and position and understand their target market behavior.
  • Those who want some exposure, but know they can’t afford to pay for the premium positions, yet want to appear on page 1. They will most likely target positions 6-10.

The only piece of information missing is how many ads are shown on a page. It will be difficult to target the bottom part of page 1 as 8-12 ads can be shown on a page, so with that shifting number, it’s difficult to actually set that in an integer format.

The negative impact this could have is that in competitive markets, there will be potentially dozens of people targeting certain positions, and it’s possible that position 3-5 can become more expensive than position 1-2 if more people are targeting those positions. In one way, it gives advertisers more control over their ad display, in another way, it removes them even another step further from understanding exactly how the price for their ad is being calculated.

Overall, Google is giving advertisers more control. It’s hard to complain about a feature that allows that, even if it has some possible negative consequences. The tool is there, the adoption and implementation will be the part that still needs to play out.

I’m very nit picky on details, and I didn’t come across anything that immediately stood out as being a negative consequence (other than the possibility above) or not well thought out. It seems Google has thought about this, looked at their ad serving technology, and figured out how to leverage additional control for advertisers.

Of course, the next step is implementation across hundreds of thousands of accounts and how advertisers use the tools. This feature will come soon. Keep an eye out for this release (and another really nice one that will be phenomenal for local businesses) that should be available in all accounts within the next couple of weeks.

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