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Spy Games - Using Auction Insights to See my Competition

Relating to Paid Search, a question I often here is: "what is my competitition doing?"  There are a number of free ways, and ways to pay, to monitor competitive activy as it relates to Advertising.  I often think too much emphasis can be placed on what the competition is doing, but if you've ever wondered who else is appearing in the Paid Search Results when you do, AdWords Auction Insights Reports has what you're looking for.


AdWords Auction Insights - What is it?

The AdWords Auction Insights Report is a report inside of AdWords that tells Advertisers, at the Keyword, Ad Group, and/or Campaign level, what other websites are displaying AdWords Ads in the Google Paid Search Results.

Insights Report.jpg


AdWords Auction Insights - What does it tell me?

1.  Display URL Domain - This tells you the root Display URL Domain of the other advertisers that were in the same Keyword Auction for your Keywords.

2.  Impression Share - Impression Share tells you the percentage of times your Ads showed out of the total number of times they were eligible to show.

3.  Average Position - The Average Position when the Domains appeared in the Paid Search Results.

4.  Overlap Rate - How often you and that competitior Domain appeared in the same Paid Search Results.

5.  Position Above Rate - When in the same Paid Search Results as you, how often other competitive Domains' Ads appeared in a higher position than yours.

6.  Top of Page Rate - Percentage of times Domain's Ads appeared in the top, shaded box of Google Paid Search Results.


AdWords Auction Insights - Where can I find it?

1.  Log into your AdWords Account

2.  Click on the Campaign, Ad Group, or Keywords tab 

Keywords tab.jpg

3.  Select what specific Campaigns, Ad Groups, or Keywords you want to see details on by clicking the check box next to them, or see all by not clicking any check box

Keyword Select.jpg

4.  Click on the "Details" button; then select All or Selected, under Auction Insights menu

Auction Insights.jpg


Notes on Auction Insights

  • The Auction Insights Report doesn't tell you what advertisers have the same Keywords/Match Types/Settings/Bids as you, it tells you "...other advertisers who participated in the same auctions as you."
  • The Brands that you directly compete with may not be in this report because again, it only tells you "...other advertisers who participated in the same auctions as you."
  • Other advertisers' metrics such as CTR, Quality Score, Bids, etc. are not available in this report
  • The Auction Insights Report only gives details on Google Paid Search Results.
  • The Auction Insights Report will not tell you what specific Keywords your competitors are bidding on and/or what Keywords they're bidding on that you're not.

Suggestions for Using Auction Insights

Caveats aside, Auction Insight can provide you with some valuable data that you can apply to your current AdWords Campaigns - 


  1. Bid Evaluations - If you see that your competition frequently ranks above you and/or appears at the top of of page more often than you, you may consider altering your Bids to receive higher positioning.
  2. Ad Copy Strategy - While the Auction Insights report will not give you what Ad Copy your competition is running, you may consider altering your Ad Copy strategy based on your competition.  For example, if you see that you're frequently going up against an advertiser that offers promotions/discount pricing, you may consider altering your Ads so they can stand out when compared against this messaging.
  3. Focusing on Overlap Rate - When you see what other advertisers you're most often competing with, be sure that your Ads and Landing Pages clearly promote your unique selling proposition - tout what makes your product/service superior to your competition.
  4. Impression Share - If you see that certain competitors have very strong Impression Share, and yours is not as strong, consider increasing your Daily Budgets to gain more exposure to your Ads. 

Final Thought

And finally, at the end of the day, just knowing what competitors' Creative strategy is, or what Keywords they're bidding on, or what Landing Pages they're using, isn't going to validate your Advertising Strategies and/or give you a reason to re-think your Strategies.  Keywords and Ad Copy will perform differently for every website, and for every company.  


Regarding competitive monitoring, I think advertisers should do as much as possible to their own websites and to their own AdWords Accounts before spending time and energy monitoring the competition.  Advertisers should take the time to look for new Keywords, test different Landing Pages, evaluate bid strategies, test different Ad Copy, etc., and really get the most that they can out of their own Account, and then worry about the competition.  Competitive monitoring can give you some helpful insights into what they're doing, but just knowing what the competition is doing, isn't going to have a direct impact on advertisers' Campaigns.

about Brian Valentini

Chicago-based husband and father who likes sports, traveling, and laughing. Excited about the field of Digital Marketing, especially Paid Search. Work-life = Vice President/Director of Search Marketing at DigitasLBi, a global digital marketing and technology agency.

Dave D
March 2014

Thanks for the pro tip! This ought to come in handy with my market research!