If you're anything like me, chances are you constantly measure yourself (or what you create) against that of the competition.
The problem is you don't really know what the competition is doing in every case or at all times. While analyzing your own past performance to make campaign improvements is fundamentally important, analyzing your performance against that of the competition is another exceptionally valuable measurement.
If you are an Adwords advertiser you actually already have access to this information (accessible through the "Analyze competition" link on the Opportunities tab in your Adwords account). Using the report, advertisers can understand at a glance how they are performing compared to others in their niche.
The information provided by Google shows the range of normal performance, areas that could be improved by optimization changes and lets advertisers explore new opportunities.
Most valuable to the "how do I compare" crowd however will be the performance ranges. Performance can be measured by impressions, clicks, clickthrough rate and average position but advertisers need to select a category so Google can benchmark the advertisers Adwords performance against others promoting similar products or services. If you're always interested in being the top at whatever you do then this tool provides a reliable indication as it relates to Adwords.
Each panel shows advertisers how their recent performance compares to all other advertisers in that category. The range of performance is broken into five segments. The tool essentially just shows advertisers if they are performing in the top portion of advertisers in the category, the bottom portion, or some range in between. Again, advertisers can compare themselves to everyone by metrics such as impressions, clicks, CTR, and Avg. position.
All in all a really excellent tool that is often too easy to forget exists. The data is probably best used in conjunction with other reports and statistics to understand if changes are right for your Adwords campaigns. It's definitely worth a closer look, particuarly for advertisers ready to grow their campaigns.
This is a sample from a paused/inactive campaign at Adwords: