Metrics in AdWords are a funny thing. Some are invaluable, others are a complete waste of time and a select few are plain dangerous in the wrong hands. This is no accident either. Google does pretty well out of metrics that encourage you to up your bids – whether you need to or not.

Average position (Avg. Pos.) has to among the worst offenders for this. Logic tells you a higher ad positions means more clicks, healthier campaigns and a more profitable account. But today we want to tell you clearly: avoid bidding wars for the sake of position one ads.


What happens when your ads sit in position one?

We can tell you from the accounts we’ve managed that ads in position one really do generate the most clicks. What we want to make clear at this point is those higher click-through rate do not mean you’ve got the best ad or most profitable campaign in the stack.

Here are some key points for you to consider:

  • Lower positions can be cheaper
  • First and last ads are the most “visible” in the pack
  • Position 1 ads get the most clicks
  • Position 1 ads also get the highest bounce rates
  • Position 2 and 3 ads provide better ROIs than position 1 ads


It’s that last point that hopefully hammers it home for you. But how can position 1 ads perform worse than position 2 and 3, despite getting more clicks? This is because visibility doesn’t reflect the quality of ads or landing pages that follow them. The fact position 1 ads get the highest bounce rates shows the majority of campaigns aren’t relevant enough to user intent.

The fact is a user doesn’t quit and go to bed after clicking one ad because things don’t work out. The first thing they do is hit the back button, click ad number 2 and then number 3, if needed. And we’ve seen this add up to better performance for those ad positions time and again.

So don’t get sucked into bidding wars for position one. Focus on the quality of your campaign, ads and landing pages – because that’s what users who convert want to see.