Why Google Ads Impressions Matter and What They Tell You

Nov 24, 2023
Nov 24, 2023
11 min
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Google Ads impressions

Unpack what Google Ads impressions are, how they form the basis for your other metrics, and why you should include them in your analytics reporting.

Google Ads impressions… what are they, really? And why should you care about them? 🤔

Join me as I uncover the impact of Google impressions and what they reveal about your ads. I’ll also be going through how to interpret and improve them, so get comfy and put the kettle on while you log into your Google Ads account. 

What are Google Ads impressions?

Whether on the Google Search Network (GSN) or the Google Display Network (GDN), impressions (Impr.) are defined the same way. In simple terms, an impression (Impr. in Google Ads) is every time your ad displays on a search query on Google or any other site on the networks or Google Partner sites. In some instances, only part of your ad will be shown, like on Google Maps, for example.

In short, impressions are how many times your ad is shown. Google Ads impressions are also the basis on which other metrics are measured, like conversion rate and click-through rate. They can’t be calculated without impressions.

Why are Google Ads impressions important?

Google Ads impressions show how many times your ad is displayed in search results (across GSN and GDN) against the search term or phrase entered. 

In layman’s terms, this is your total revenue potential, as it shows the maximum number of conversions your ads could drive. This is kind of a big deal.

In addition, your impressions indicate relevance to what people are searching for in relation to what you’re advertising. You’re able to see the demand for your product or service and potential market share.

Analyzing Google Ads impressions

The best way to analyze your impressions is to compare them against another metric or benchmark in your reports. Impressions in Google Ads don’t tell you much on their own, but when compared against clicks, for example, they start to paint a bigger picture. When you compare the number of times your ad is displayed to the number of times someone clicked on your ad, you can calculate your click-through rate. 

Understanding your click-through rate on Google is important as it tells you how many of the people who see your ads actually click on them. This is Google’s golden metric and relies on impressions to calculate.

Different industries have wildly different benchmarks for average impressions and clicks (you’ll hardly ever find one stat without the other), so compare your business against the category for a realistic goal. Here is a graph showing monthly click and impression benchmarks by industry.

Google Ads clicks and impressions benchmarks by industry for May 2023.
Source: Databox

What are eligible Google Ads impressions? 

We all strive to live up to our potential, right? Well, eligible Google Ads impressions are an estimated calculation that Google makes to determine the potential number of impressions you could get on a given day. To calculate this, the Google algorithm factors in criteria such as targeting and location settings, campaign or ad group approval statuses, and ad quality. 

Why is this important to look at your eligible Google Ads impressions? If you can identify the potential for a high increase in impressions, you can simply adjust your bid or budget accordingly to reach more people.

Understanding Google Ads impression share (IS)

Is your ad showing the number of times it could? Impression share is what gives you a clue. It’s the percentage of impressions your ads receive compared to the total number of impressions your ads could get (eligible impressions). Impression share is specific to search ads on the Google Search Network.

Google Ads dashboard showing the Search impr. share column.

You can view impression share for search campaigns and ad groups, keywords, and product groups for Shopping campaigns. Make sure you add the “Impr. (Top) %” column to your view.

Formula to calculate impression share % = Impressions / Total eligible impressions x 100

Then, what’s Absolute Top Impression Share (ATIS)?

Your Absolute Top Impression Share is the percentage showing the number of times your Shopping ad shows in the prime Google Shopping position - the very first ad above organic search results. If it shows anywhere else, it doesn’t count for this metric, which applies specifically to Google Shopping Ads. 

Prime position for Absolute Top Impression Share (ATIS) for Google Ads Shopping campaigns.

Each of your ads can only appear once in the prime Google Shopping per auction. This means that the number of Absolute Top Impressions you can get per auction is either 0 or 1.

Therefore, in order for the Absolute Top Impression Share to have significance and really say something about your ad performance, you need to give it time for the data to accumulate. This metric should be measured across campaigns and ad groups with multiple ads - not a single ad.

Search for ​​“Impr. (Abs. Top) %” to add it to your data columns.

Formula to calculate absolute top impression share = Absolute top impressions / Total eligible top impressions x 100

Too many or not enough impressions

If you have zero or very few impressions, this indicates that there is a problem with your ad preventing it from being displayed. It could be because your bids are too low or there is a technical issue with your campaign. First, check for technical issues by looking for red alerts to be addressed in your campaign. If all looks okay, you should look at your keyword list and check your bids and budget settings.

If you have too many impressions and hardly any clicks or conversions, this can indicate a relevance problem or a landing page issue. Your keywords could be too broad of a match - try exact match keywords, add negative keywords, and ensure you sift out irrelevant keywords from the list.

Low ad quality score

Essentially, your quality score indicates how your ads' quality compares against other advertisers and is a rating between 1 and 10. Largely based on click-through rate, your ad quality score is calculated using your impressions as the base metric, as I mentioned earlier. Improving your ad quality score can reduce your ad spend as Google rewards quality ads with a reduction in your cost per click.

Google Ads Meme: May quality score be ever in your favour

A low ad quality score means your ads are in a low position or not appearing at all no matter your bid amount. Google rewards consistent quality by giving you cheaper bids on keywords, making it more cost-effective to produce ads of high quality. 

Things to check if you have a low quality score:

  • Keyword impressions: lower than 10,000/month can contribute to a low quality score
  • Landing page URL: check that the destination is correct
  • Landing page: make sure your landing page loads quickly and easily for all devices
  • Relevance: make sure your ads aren’t generic and that your landing page is relevant to the ad and keyword

Monitor Google Ads impressions with One-Click Report

Okay, hands up who’s looked at the Google Ads dashboard and felt like this? 

Don’t be put off by the complicated Google Ads interface - there are much simpler ways to collate this essential data. Madgicx’s marketing analytics reporting tool, One-Click Report, not only gathers all of your Google Ads metrics, but your Google Analytics, Shopify, Meta, and TikTok data too. 

Google Ads Performance Overview report template in One-Click Report.

Choose from our prebuilt report templates that you can tailor to your needs with the drag-and-drop widget editor. Having just one dashboard, you can revisit all of your must-watch metrics any time you want, knowing that the data is up-to-date. Plus, you can easily share reports with whomever you like and try it risk-free for 7 days. 

How to improve your Google Ads impressions?

Now that you know more about Google impressions and what they mean for your business, let’s go through the ways you can improve them.

Adjust bidding strategy

If you’re a business owner, you’ll know this next statement to be true.

You get what you pay for. 

If your impression numbers are dwindling, make sure you’re not being outbid by your competitors on your keywords. Google performs an ad auction across all campaign types for your chosen keywords, and each one with its own bid amount. By raising your bid amount, you increase the likelihood of your ad being shown. 

If you’re worried about overspending, prune your keyword list down to the most relevant to your ads and raise the bids instead of trying to catch everyone with ALL THE KEYWORDS.

Optimize keyword match types

Google has four different keyword match types you can use, each with its pros and cons. 

  • Broad match: more generalized and less specific, although related, meaning you may get many responses, but they could be less relevant. 
  • Phrase match: matches the meaning or context of your keyword, offering tighter matching, i.e., fewer impressions but higher relevance. 
  • Exact match: super specific and shows for searches that are the same as your keyword meaning fewer impressions but very high relevance and chance of conversion. 
  • Negative keyword match: specify which keywords should not show your ad in search results. You should use this if you continue to receive irrelevant or mismatched responses.
Google Ads keyword match types explained.

Pinpoint location targeting

Location, location, location! 

Be strategic with your targeting settings when setting up your campaign. Make sure you’ve done your keyword research to assess the competitiveness of the area you want to target. You might waste your money if you use worldwide as an option. 

Don’t be that guy.

Furthermore, when you treat each area or region separately, it allows you to be clear on your focus and your competitors within that region, which determines the cost of keywords. Moreover, you’ll notice that trends differ across regions which you want to spot.  

Diversify campaign types

Not only are there usually multiple ways to achieve the same result, but there are multiple variations of how users consume their ad content. 

We want to cater to all scenarios and options for a better impression share. Running different campaign types is the best way to do this, and Google has two main networks that display ads: 

  1. the Google Search Network (GSN)
  2. Google Display Network (GDN)

Here are the main different campaign types and where they show up across the web:

  • Search: Text ads that display in search results on the Google Search Network and its search partner sites
  • Shopping: Product ads on the Google shopping tab (GSN), Maps, the Google display network, and in search results
  • Display: Ads with visual elements like video, images, your logo, and buttons that are displayed in search results (GSN), the Google display network, search Partner websites, and Google Maps
  • Video: Video ads that run on YouTube and through Google Video Partners on the GDN
  • App: Multi-channel mobile ads that specifically monetize apps or games on GDN
  • Smart: An easy-to-use campaign builder‍ for beginners that displays ads according to the ad type settings. It’s more about opting to use the campaign builder (GSN + GDN). 
  • Performance Max: Unlocking more placements for performance marketers, this campaign type is designed to increase the number of conversions type lets you run ads across YouTube, Display, Search, Discovery, Gmail, and Maps in addition to the GSN and GDN.
  • Discovery: Icebreaker introductory ads geared for reach and awareness displayed on YouTube Home and Watch Next feeds (GDN)


  • If you’re wondering where Dynamic ads are in the list, it's a setting within the campaign. Dynamic ads let you define creative variations in your media and copy to mix and match creative elements. It analyzes the results of each element and gives preference to the winning combination once enough results are gathered.
  • Whether you’re driving foot traffic to a local physical store or a wider region, your location settings will determine if it’s a location-based campaign. It’s not a Google campaign type.

Boost your budget

Just like modifying bids, you can tweak your daily budget to improve your impressions. 

It’s tough to see your ad isn’t gaining enough impressions despite pouring your heart and soul into creating it. If this happens to you, you should consider raising your budget in order to give more opportunities for auctions to take place. 

This is especially true if you’ve increased your bid amount, as I mentioned in the first point, as you’ll need your budget to accommodate this change. 

In addition, it’s a good rule of thumb to thoroughly test the efficacy of your creative elements. In turn, this means spending enough money so you have sufficient data to spot great performers.

Now, understanding how Google charges is a whole new blog article for another time. Y’all gonna need a hot minute for that one.

Google impressions or clicks, which is more important?

You can have impressions and no clicks, but you can’t have clicks without impressions. You need both in order to achieve your marketing goals. While it may not seem the most obvious or crucial business metric, impressions are the foundation on which other metrics are built.

Then the clicks are the direct results of the impressions and help to gauge the actions taken. Only then can you calculate the performance of your campaign. 

So, like bread and butter, impressions and clicks work better when combined.


Whether your impressions are high or low, remember that they will always show your potential, which keeps your goals on track so you aim high. With this in mind, let this article serve as a task reminder to ensure your reporting data is on point. 

Don’t let your Google Ads impressions slip through the cracks with shoddy or difficult-to-understand reporting. Use Madgicx’s One-Click Report for an accurate multi-channel report dashboard that tracks your conversions through the entire customer journey. Sign up for a free 7-day trial to experience having all your data under one roof. 

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Nov 24, 2023
Nov 24, 2023
Vanessa John

As a content and technical writer, my goal is to help business owners and advertisers navigate the digital landscape.

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