In case you haven’t noticed, Google has been displaying slightly different search results than what you’re probably (subconsciously) used to. Do you know what’s different?
Over the past few months, Google has been refining its AdWords taxonomy, testing changes to search ads within various niche segments. The advertising giant has been continuously experimenting with the number of ads that appear in the paid positions of search results.
Search results used to display three prime position ads and anywhere up to 11 right rail ads, like the below:
More recently, Google has rolled out new search results which display four prime position ads and no right rail ads. This change has had an impact on a number of searches, mainly for highly-competitive commercial queries such as hotels and insurance.
What does this mean for marketers?
Google’s job as a search engine is to provide users with the most accurate information and search results to help answer their questions. Google’s decision to reduce AdWords real estate means search engine marketers will need to revaluate their strategies and move towards providing an enhanced online experience for potential customers. So, how exactly does this change affect search marketers?
Provide a better experience for potential customers
With no right rail ads, only the four most relevant ads will be displayed, forcing marketers to more accurately target keywords and create ads that better resonate with searchers and their intent. Put simply, it means marketers will still need to be clever and creative with their messages while providing appropriate search results to the masses.
Cost-per-click to spike
When advertising real estate is reduced, demand increases, forcing prices to go up. Expect an increase in the average cost-per-click as marketers battle it out to keep their positions at the top of the Google results page. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Previously, if a search ad appeared anywhere between position 6 and 11 in the right rail, it usually meant the ad copy and associated landing page weren’t properly optimised for the keyword the user searched for. In this instance, if the ad received clicks, there was a good chance marketers may have been wasting ad spend because the content wasn’t quite what the searcher was after. If an ad gets displayed in the new format, any clicks it receives will be more qualified and will have a greater likelihood to convert as it means it targeted the searcher’s queries accurately.
More accurate reporting
With the removal of right rail ads it means marketers will be able to report more accurately on search ad performance. In the previous 11 ad format, the mean position would generally be lower than the mode position because there were so many ads skewing the results. Now with the reduction of ads, there will be a much smaller discrepancy between the mean and mode position of ads, providing a more accurate representation of how the ad has been performing.
A change for the better
Although there is now less search ad real estate to play with and a more competitive environment, it should be viewed as an opportunity to provide even better experiences for customers. The removal of right rail AdWords ads and the addition of a prime position slot should allow marketers to think more intelligently about what drives their customers. The competition will be fierce but it will challenge marketers to think outside the box and further develop their skills in AdWords and search marketing.