Recently here at JumpFly, I had an odd event occur with a client’s Google AdWords account regarding the average position reported in the account and the actual position seen when using the Google AdPreview tool. The average position reported for the keywords was consistently around 5, however when we Where Are Your Adslooked at the search terms using the recommended Google AdPreview tool, the ads were being displayed 3 to 5 pages back in the results. This is a huge difference between the reported data and the actual display and as you can imagine generated many questions regarding the accuracy of this data.

First and foremost, it’s important to use the Google AdPreview tool when checking your ad’s position for Google.com. Google recommends the use of this tool in order to see the accurate position of your ads (see Brad’s Video Blog for more about finding your own ads at Google).

To be thorough, after we had used the AdPreview tool we checked Google search and found the same position discrepancies. We tried searching by state, city, and did see some fluctuation in the positioning, however we never once saw it in position 5 or above.

The question then is, “How can we see an average position of 5 in the administration feature, when we actually see the ads in positions 25 to 55?” In my mind, that would require the ad to be displayed at least some of the time in the top positions, however we never once saw the ads appear in position 5 or above. How odd?

I went straight to the source for the answer and the response from Google was very interesting. They believe that the Search Partners may have less competition, and since they use their own historical data to rank and display ads, my clients positioning could possibly be higher. Since they were able to verify on their back-end that the large majority of the volume for this client was coming from their search partners, it seems that the position of 5 was actually that of the search partner network and not at all a representation of the ads on Google.

A quick search on several of the major search partner networks like AOL.com, and Comcast.net reveled very similar results to Google.com, with the ads still being displayed several pages back in the search results. This means that the position of 5 must be achieved through other odd partner sites including those content style websites that use the Google search box feature. For some reason Google still considers these low quality sites as “Search Partners” since they use a search box. This is a point where I strongly disagree.

The solution was simple enough. I removed the search partners from the targeting. This allowed the interface to show me actual average positions as obtained through Google.com and not any of the odd search partner websites. Bids needed to be raised, however at least we were able to accurately see the results of the bid increases and the real positioning of the client’s ads on Google. If ROI permits, we may release the campaign back to the Search Partner Network.

On several occasions we have suggested to Google the ability to separate campaigns for Google and the Search Partner Network. As it is now, you only have the choice to do Google alone, or Google and the Search Partner Network combined. As a result of this occurrence, I have also suggested that Google display separate average positions for Google and the Search Partner Network.