Know Thy Competitor: Using Adwords Auction Tool to Assess Competition

sun tzu

It is said,

  • If you know your enemy and know yourself, you will win 100 battles.
  •  If you know yourself and do not know your enemy, you will win one and lose one.
  •   If you do not know your enemy nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.

            Sun Tzu

While Sun Tzu applied this wisdom on the battlefield to win wars and conquer enemies, these lessons can be and have been used in industrial marketing to increase qualified leads. To win on the battlefield of business, we must BOTH know thyself and our enemies.

Luckily in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, Google Adwords has a fantastic tool to help you know your enemy, AKA competitors. What is this revolutionary tool? … The Auction Report!

What is an Auction Report?

An Auction report is simply a report containing a list of your competitors. More than just a flat list of names, Adwords orders the list by highest threat level to lowest threat allowing you to focus your attention on the enemy that matters most (in Sun Tzu’s time this would have been Genghis Khan and his Mongolian Hoard!!).

What can I see in an Auction Report?

Along with the list of competitors, Adwords shows you:

Impression Share – This is how often your competitor appeared when someone searched for a term you yourself are bidding on.

Avg. Position – This is your competitors average ad position. A good rule of thumb is to look for competitors ranking in the 1st to 3rd position. If they are ranking this well these competitors are most certainly taking some business from you in the zero sum game of sales.

Overlap Rate – Tells you how often ads from your competitors are appearing at the same time your ad appears. The higher this number the higher the threat they are.

Position Above Rate – The lower this number is the better for you! If this number is 100% this means that every time your advertisement appears to customers, your competitor’s ad appears above your ad 100% of the time, every time!

This is pretty much akin to Mike Tyson knocking you out with a hard right hook and standing over your lifeless body while the ref counts to 10.

Great! So where do I find the Auction Report?

Click on the Keywords tab > Details tab > Auction Insights “All”


Learn more about Google Adwords Auction tool at Google Support!


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Scott Preuter

About Scott Preuter

Scott Prueter is an online advertising specialist at Fathom, and has been managing pay-per-click campaigns with the company since 2014. He is a graduate of Ohio University and has completed advanced graduate studies at Cleveland State University specializing in strategic digital marketing management. Previously, Scott was an email marketing specialist supporting the global growth of a computer technology training center. His background in identifying the target audience and crafting personalized marketing materials enables him to effectively communicate brand messages effectively that are optimized for conversion. When not helping innovative companies implement promotional campaigns, Scott enjoys vinyasa yoga, volunteering with Cleveland’s refugee population, and playing acoustic guitar.

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