PPC & KPI Monitoring: How to diagnose and work with Impression Share Loss due to Budget

By Brad


General, Performance Analyzer

We’re continuing our series on KPI monitoring & diagnosis by taking an in-depth look into why you lose impression share due to budget. This is often referred to as Lost IS (budget) in the Google Ads interface.

From a pure definition standpoint, impression share loss due to budget is essentially when you do not have a high enough budget to show your ads all the time.

While this is a simple definition, it is possible for you not to do any budget changes and see your impression share loss budget increase or decrease significantly compared to a different timeframe.

Several items can affect your impression share loss budget. The primary ones we will examine include:

  • Seasonality
  • Volume changes
  • Targeting changes
  • CPC changes
  • Quality Score
  • Changes to budget

One of the reasons we want to keep on top of this number as it directly affects our search impression share and can help us understand changes to our impressions. This is especially useful when the search volume increases at a higher rate than our impressions. For instance, in this account, the search volume went up 130%, but our impressions only wen up 16. The reason our impressions didn’t go up as much as search volume did was that we lost a lot of impressions due to Lost Impression Share budget.


By understanding how lost impression share budget works and what affects this metric, we can easily monitor our changes and the search behavior so that we’re always funding our most profitable campaigns even as search volume is changing.

Seasonality & Changes to Search Volume

If you don’t make any changes to your account and this number changes, it’s generally due to changes in search volume.

The most common change to search volume is seasonality. In many accounts, there are periods of time where there is more or less search volume.

However, search volume changes can arise from many sources: TV commercials, social mentions, new ad campaigns, journalists, etc.

When a change is predicted (seasonality, TV commercials, etc.), it’s best to raise your budgets ahead of time to capture the additional volume. When it is not predicted, such as randomly being mentioned by a celebrity, having a blog post go viral, etc. – then it’s good to automatically monitor these numbers so you can quickly react to the additional volume.

Targeting Changes

If you make targeting changes that increase or decrease your impressions, this directly affects your lost impression share due to budget. If you lower the number of auctions that you are entered into by adding negative keywords or pausing keywords, then your loss impression share budget should decrease since you have fewer opportunities to spend money and gather clicks.

If you add new targeting options, such as DSAs, new keywords, remove negative keywords, and so forth, then your impression share loss due to budget will generally increase since you now have new opportunities to spend your budget.

As you make significant changes to your targeting options, either adding or removing targeting capabilities, then you’ll want to revisit your budgets to see if you need to increase a campaign budget or decrease a budget and move it to another campaign.

CPC Changes

If your CPC goes up or down a lot, this often creates changes to your impression share loss due to budget. If your CPCs go down, then each click costs less, which means you can show more often before your budget runs out.

If your CPC goes up a lot, then you’ll spend your budget faster, run out of budget quicker, and see an increase in impression share loss due to budget.

If you are using manual CPC bidding, it’s easy to know when your CPCs change to coordinate changes to your budget.

If you are using automated bidding or eCPC bidding, then you might not realize your CPCs have changed dramatically and can be caught off guard about running out of budget too quickly. When using automated bidding, we’re often focused on target CPA or target ROAS. However, you do want to monitor your impression share budget loss. If the system is working well, you generally want to raise your budgets (or lower your targets, which we’ll get to later in this article).

Another reason CPCs can change quickly is a new competitor enters the market, or current competitors become more or less aggressive with their bidding. This Google Data Studio report can help you monitor competitors.

Quality Score Changes

Changes to your Quality Score can be tricky to evaluate from an impression share loss standpoint.

If your Quality Score increases, which increases the number of auctions where you can compete, you’ll often see your impression share loss switch from a rank loss (meaning you were too low on a page to be displayed) to a budget loss.

If you are often in the top positions and your Quality Score increase, then you might see a decline in average CPC, which means you can get more clicks for the same budget, and your loss impression share budget will decrease.

If you see your Quality Scores decrease, then you might see a loss in impression share due to rank as your ads were in too low of a position to be displayed. You might also see an increase in CPC, which means you’ll run out of budget sooner since you are paying more per click.

"The Promotional Schedule" quality score trend

Usually, when Quality Score changes, you’ll notice the effects on impression share loss due to rank because of a CPC change and not directly as a result of a Quality Score change. Regardless, being able to monitor and graph Quality Score changes is useful.

Budget Changes

Obviously, if you change your budget, you can expect your budget share loss number to change. What you want to do before you change your budget is to find the spot where you can increase your budget and still get conversions at an acceptable CPA.  You can see much more about this concept here: What happens when you change your PPC budget?


What you Should Do when your Impression Share Loss due to Budget Changes

When you see a change to impression share loss due to budget, there are a few things you can do. The tricky part here is that some companies have an absolute monthly or quarterly budget. Therefore, you can’t spend over an amount in a given timeframe. In these cases, you can often move budget from one place to another place, but you can’t just raise them. Other companies have CPA or ROAS targets, and as long as you are within the targets, you can increase the budget at will.

If you can raise budgets at will and you are within your CPA or ROAS targets, then you should have very little impression share loss due to budget as you should be changing budgets to capture as much demand as you can.

If you are budget constrained, then you want to make the most efficient use of your budget as possible. For example, in this account (click image to see it much larger) most of the campaigns are underspending. One campaign has a 24% Loss Impression Share (budget) and has a lower cost per conversion than some other campaigns. Therefore, if we are budget constrained, we can move budget from underspending campaigns to that campaign to get more conversions.


If Loss Impression Share increases and your CPA or ROAS targets are being met, then you want to talk to whoever sets budgets to see if you can get a boost in budget. If not, then you can look to see your what your least profitable campaigns are and move budget to those campaigns.

The other option is to lower your bids. For example, if you have a $1 CPC and $100 daily budget, you will get 100 clicks per day. If you lower your bid to $0.75, then you can get 133 clicks per day. There comes a point where lowering your bid will hurt you as the ad will no longer be visible, and you might see an increase in loss impression share due to rank. If you are budget constrained, your job is to find the balancing act between a bid that gets you the most clicks for your converting keywords without overbidding.

Wrap Up

Impression share loss due to budget occurs when your budget is too low to gather all the possible clicks. Losing impression shares due to budget for experimental campaigns, awareness campaigns, some display campaigns (but not remarketing), and so forth is OK as you are first trying to generate awareness (and there’s so much inventory out there, that most people can’t afford to always show).

What you don’t want is to lose impression shares due to budgets in your most profitable campaigns. Your most profitable campaigns should have plenty of budget to capture the demand. If they don’t and you can’t raise the budget, then you want to remove the least profitable targeting that is in that campaign or lower your bids.

The other thing to watch for is when search volume shifts and suddenly you are losing traffic in these profitable campaigns due to seasonality or just changes to search behavior. Anticipating seasonality for budgeting purposes is part of your PPC job. However, sometimes search volume just changes. If you are monitoring your impression shares and can see when the shift is occurring, then you can quickly manipulate your budgets to capture the profitable demand.

Impression share is a great metric to use to examine how often you are showing and to ensure your most profitable campaigns are showing as much as possible. The reasons we lose impression share is either due to budgets or due to rank. In our next article, we will dig into impression share loss due to rank and see how we can diagnose and put fixes in place for when loss due to rank shifts over time.

To keep up with this series, and see other Adalysis article, you can subscribe to the Adalysis blog here.

We hope you’re enjoying the series 🙂

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