On the 18th of February Google updated its layout for desktop ads removing the righthand column, where ads were previously displayed, upping the competition among PPC Professionals. Reactions to the Google update have been varied, some claiming that its a grab by Google to fund their extensive RND, and others naturally saying that the sidebar ads weren't as effective anyway - especially with mobile search on the rise.
Statistics show that the ads on the side were for the most part ignored by users with 14 times more people clicking on the top position ads over the sidebar ads, even when using the same keywords and ad copy. With searches on mobile on the rise, lead by Millenials - 21% of which no longer use desktops - it makes sense to phase out ads on the side bar, as only the top and bottom ads appear. Given the above stats, ads on the right are either ineffective as they don't get clicked on, or don't appear to users at all.
Google has instead added a fourth ad to the existing three at the top of search results for highly commercial queries (searches where Google anticipates a likelihood of sale). The top search ads are to work in conjunction with ads that are at the bottom of the page but lets be honest - nobody scrolls that far down, if they don't find what they need above the fold they're going to perform another search.
Product listing ads for appropriate searches, and knowledge panels will show up on the newly freed up realestate on the righthand side and considering their visual nature it'll be interesting to see how this effects clicks in comparison to when text ads were displayed there.
SO. What does this mean for PPC advertisers?
We anticipate a rise in cost per click (CPC) advertising due to the lack of space available for ads, pushing up competition for clicks and maximum budgets settings. It also reduces the visible organic results underneath ads before having to scroll down, particularly on mobile devices.
Where to from here?
There are a few things you can do to improve your ads, and your Adwords and Ad positions:
1. Improve your quality score
2. Re-assess keywords
3. Landing page optimisation
4. Improve Call to Actions.
5. Keep a very close eye on your competitors
To get there, resources have to be avaliable and anything to do with your SEM campaign needs to be on point to be seen. Need help? We'd be happy to give you a hand! Send an email through to firstname.lastname@example.org.