How to find out who your competitors in AdWords are

It’s human nature to care about what others around us are doing, whether we admit it or not. This is particularly true for paid search and AdWords.

In this post, I’ll show you how to:

  • Find out who your AdWords competitors are.
  • Estimate their budget.
  • Understand their device strategy.
  • Spot a trend over time.

Find out who your competitors in AdWords are

The first step is to pull the auction insights report, which can be done on a campaign, ad group or keyword level. This example will show you how to do this on an ad group level.

If you’re using the old Adwords interface, you can access this report here.

For those on the new AdWords interface, this is where you'll find the report:

Once you load the report you will see a table with competitors on the left and 6 data points.

They are:

  1. Impression Share: The percentage of times your brand’s ad shows up in the auction.
  2. Average Position: The average rank of that ad.
  3. Overlap Rate: How often your competitor’s ad received an impression in the same auction that your ad also received an impression.
  4. Position Above Rate: How often your competitor’s” ad was displayed in a higher position than your own, when both of your ads were shown at the same time, in the same auction.
  5. Top of Page Rate: How often your ad (or the ad of another advertiser, depending on the row you’re viewing) was shown at the top of the page in search results.
  6. Outranking Share: How often your ad ranked higher in the auction over another advertiser’s ad, or if your ad displayed when theirs did not.

Okay, that’s great, but how can you use this data to boost your business? 

Estimate a competitor’s budget

I know this point isn’t exact, in light of factors like quality score and bidding strategy, but it is directionally correct. For example, if you spend $500 per month on this ad group and your impression share is 50% and your competitors share is 75%, then you can estimate they’re spending 50% more than you (or $750 per month).

Understand a competitor’s device strategy

You can split the auction insights report by device.

For those on the new AdWords interface:

Old AdWords interface.

Most online businesses struggle to figure out how to value their mobile traffic. You can use the device-level cut of data to understand how your competitor’s brand performs on mobile.

In the example below, we can see the competitor outranks us almost 50% of the time on desktop, but we outrank them 80% of the time on mobile – thanks to our specific mobile strategy. This kind of insight can help if you’re looking for gaps to target when facing a much larger competitor.

Trending over time

You can also cut the data by time of day, week, month, quarter, year or day of week, using the same option as demonstrated above. This is another way to understand the gaps in your competitor’s strategy, or your own.

New Adwords Interface:

Old Adwords Interface:

The wrap up

Although this data can be very helpful, try not to lean on it too much. There’s no denying these findings can help to benchmark your own performance, but it’s never a good idea to manage your business based purely on what others do.

About the author:

Cillian Bracken-Conway is a Digital Marketing Specialist. He helps businesses work out where they could be saving on paid campaigns. He can be reached at

This article was first published on



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