How to calculate average position in PPC Search

PPC Search average position is a weighted average and must take into account the number of impressions

For example, if you have raw data that shows the average position that an ad appeared at across two sites within a campaign the temptation is to add the two positions up and divide by two to give the overall campaign average – and this would be wrong

How to calculate average position...wrongly

How to calculate average position...wrongly

Intuitively the above seems fine. But the ad was seen in position 1 twice as many times as it was seen in position 7, so clearly the average should not be half way between the two.

Instead, you must calculate a new field by multiplying the number of impressions by the average position in order to include the underlying weighting (think of this new metric as the sum of all of the positions, if that helps).

New field created

New field created - Impressions * Position

Now we need to find the sum of ‘position x impressions’ and the total number of impressions

Calculating average position

Note the totals

Finally, the average position across the whole campaign can be calculated by dividing the total ‘position x impressions’ by the total impressions

(i.e. 450,000 / 150,000 in the example) which is….3.0!

This answer is closer to 1 than 7, which makes sense when we know there were twice as many impressions in position 1.

The same principle would apply if you were looking at average position across months, campaigns or keywords, as well as across different sites

So remember – don’t add up and divide to get overall average position – take the number of impressions into account…

2 comments to How to calculate average position in PPC Search

  • Alex

    So clearly explained, amazing how many people get this wrong. More “common mistakes” please

  • Definitely iaomrtpnt when calculating Average Position as well. For CPC reports, remember to multiply total impressions by average position for each line in your report (keyword, adgroup, campaign, etc).Sum this column and divide by the sum or all impressions. This number is your true Average Position.

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