You may have noticed a seemingly small change to Google when searching. Reports suggest that Google may have been seeing poor returns on right-hand side ads, so made the decision to remove them, leaving ad space only at the top or bottom of the page. To make up for the lost ads on the right, on popular searches they’ll be adding one more ad listing to the top of the search results for a total of 4 available placements.
There are two exceptions: Product Listing Ads (PLAs) and Knowledge Panel ads may still be shown on the right side. These changes put new pressures on marketers, as they face rethinking advertising costs, user experience and efficiency.
The SEM Post, who first reported the changes, received the following statement from Google:
“We’ve been testing this layout for a long time, so some people might see it on a very small number of commercial queries. We’ll continue to make tweaks, but this is designed for highly commercial queries where the layout is able to provide more relevant results for people searching and better performance for advertisers.”
The change is focused on user benefit
Google continues to marry the desktop and mobile experience, and getting rid of right-hand ads aligns with this. In general, smartphones and side ads are not a great match, as the majority of screens don’t have the capacity to display them. The redesign reflects the now most popular way of searching – on mobile.
Yet there won’t always just be white space on the right hand side of your search. Google plan to use the space to put more emphasis on their Product Listing Ads, such as below:
By simply typing in ‘branded mugs’, you get the usual ads at the top of the page but now get specific ecommerce results with images and simple purchase options on the right-hand side instead of text ads, making it purchasing more intuitive for users.
But it’s not so positive for marketers
The fight for the best ad spaces has just accelerated. With competition higher than ever, higher costs per click (CPC) can be expected, as advertisers vie for the top spots. It is widely acknowledged that users engage with the top of the page, and neglect the bottom results, so having an ad stuck at the bottom of search results is not an ideal situation for a marketer.
However, this does mean that pay-per-click (PPC) ad clicks are now on average going to be worth more money, as there will be fewer advertisers on one page.
With a fourth top ad, organic results have been pushed even further down the search results page, despite the fact the same amount results per page will be displayed, meaning it is likely that non-paid for content will get less clicks. This may mean a rethink on SEO strategies for many businesses.
How can your business work with the updated Ads platform?
For marketers who have always made the most of their data and insights to understand their consumers’ behaviour and create relevant ads that appear in premium positions, the main change will likely be an increase in budget. It is unclear at the moment how much cost per clicks will rise by, but marketing experts agree this will certainly have an impact on many small businesses in particular, and may even drive them to go down alternative routes for advertising.
Concerned about how Google’s changes may affect your business’ online presence? As online competition grows, your marketing strategy is more important than ever. Get in touch with us for advice.