Last month Google made quite a change on how ads are displayed on its search results pages (SERPs). Text ads will no longer be served on the right side of the organic results--where there used to be as many as 9 text ads. Instead of the ability to see up to 11 ads on one page, there is now only room for 7 ads. This is a 36% decrease in the number of ads that can be shown, but this does not mean that this is a reason to panic! Although the removal of these ads sounds negative, we think it will result in 18% more clicks for advertisers, without changing anything on their accounts! Google says it may also show an additional ad--4 instead of 3--above the search results for what they call the “highly commercial queries.”
Google Removes Right Hand Side Ads
Google started working on these text ads back in 2008 when they added the new ad slots below the search results in Japan and Australia. Their goal was to test if bottom ads could be launched in larger markets. At the time, they were not considering turning off the ads on the right side, but simply adding the new slots at the bottom. They know that bottoms ads had better CTRs than the ones on the right side, so it was justifiable to grant them with better ad ranks.
Fast-forward to 2010-2011, Google began to experiment with 4 ads above the search results with mortgage ads and started to serve ads below the search results, if ads did not already show on the right. These experiments are what have launched the permanent removal of the right side ads in favor of new ads below the organic results.
What Does This Mean For Those Paying Google For Clicks?
Last year Google told us that the number of searches on desktops have been declining for some time while search volume on mobile has been growing. In the US, and 8 other countries, the majority of queries happens on mobile--these devices have always had the ad layout that desktop is now inheriting. Desktop and laptop ad layouts will now look more like what we’re already used to, with no ads on the right side but instead above and below the organic search results. There are a few pros and cons to this:
- Since mobile and desktop layouts look very similar now, advertisers will all essentially compete for the same positions
- Some of the complexities advertisers dealt with because one ad position meant something different depending on the device has been reduced.
- Bottom ad placements performs better than side ads in CTR (click-through-rate), it is suspected that this is in large part to the average user treating ads shown inline with organic results as another organic result
- Product Listing Ads (PLAs), also known as Shopping Ads, will continue to show on the right side
- Advertisers may start to bid more aggressively
- Organic advertisers will be hurt with this change, companies will see their listings get pushed further down the page--often below the fold
- Advertisers whose ads have been delegated to page 2 in the results will not make up lost volume with more clicks
- Ads at the top of the 2nd page will not get the top ad positions--the premium slots will be reserved for ads that are known to be better, meaning Google will just repeat ads from page 1 at the top of page 2
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