Google Change Search Ads Layout
Google stop showing ads on right side of all desktop and tablet search results globally
Today Google announced an important change to how paid ads will serve on both desktop and tablet devices. The change moves away from three top-level paid ads to four for top commercial terms, with the side bar ads, traditionally positions 4-9, now falling away.
Three ads will still show for the majority of searches, and the three bottom-of-page ads will remain. The side bar will be reserved exclusively for Product Listing Ads (PLAs) and knowledge graph panels where relevant.
After extensive tests, started as far back as 2010, the global roll-out is underway and will be completed by Wednesday 24 February 2016.
New opportunity for high yielding position
The move to four top-only ads does add an extra opportunity for a higher yielding ad position. Traditionally, positions 1-3 had a far stronger Click Through Rate (CTR) over the ads served on the right. This was enhanced by the fact that Google served these 1-3 ads with the full suite of extensions, which often didn’t
serve in the smaller space on the right side of the page.
Organic click-share likely to suffer
On search results with 4 top ads, clicks on the top organic search listings are likely to fall. This correlates with a wider trend we’re seeing on highly commercial terms where organic clicks are falling as a result of ads becoming more prominent.
Parity of desktop and mobile results
The move also means that desktop and tablet paid search ads now serve very similarly to mobile. The parity of SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) will allow a similar bid strategy to be applied to both and better comparisons in terms of ad positions.
With desktop searches declining year on year and mobile searches in many industries surpassing 50% of total traffic, Google has been working on making the user experience more consistent between desktop and mobile results.
More competition in the auctions
When Google moved from 2 to 3 top position ads in mobile last year in August, we saw a 25% increase in mobile traffic from our clients’ paid search activity. However, this was an additional ad opportunity in an already-intense auction. The most recent move, in contrast, removes up to 5 further ads appearing above the fold. This is likely to result in a sizeable drop in the number of impressions, as well as the potential clicks in each auction.
In addition, Google’s notorious ‘first page bid’ will boom as advertisers now have 7 positions (4 at the top and 3 at the bottom) to appear on the first page over the previous 9.
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