How Will The Changes To Google’s Advertising Layout Affect Search Engine Marketing Performance?
On Saturday February 20th, Google confirmed a change affecting their search engine results pages. Google advertising will no longer show on the right sidebar for desktop search results pages. Instead, search engine results pages now display up to four text ads (instead of three) at the top of the page, and three at the bottom of the page. So, how will these changes affect your paid search engine marketing campaigns?
- Desktop search results pages will no longer show text ads on the right sidebar.
- There will be up to four ads at the top of the page and three at the bottom. This adds up to seven ads in total (previous max was 11 ads).
- PLA (Product Listing Ads) will now show on the right sidebar for relevant search queries.
- This is a global change affecting Google Search and Google Search Partners effective Monday, February 22nd.
So, Why The Change?
Google is always testing so it’s no surprise that they have been conducting ongoing search query research for several years. Google stated that 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.” Essentially, this means that the change is meant to provide better performance for targeting users with their intent to purchase. Google’s mission has always been to help its users find the highest quality and most relevant information for their search. This change forces advertisers to compete not just for space, but for quality ads that help the user find exactly what they are looking for.
How will this affect my Google search engine marketing campaigns?
There is plenty of speculation regarding how KPIs and other metrics will be affected for your campaigns. However, this change is too recent to support any actual data or evidence. There are many that say the CPC will go up, yet there are equally as many that say the opposite. We are driven by data as opposed to speculation. Therefore, we have been and will continue to closely monitor the impact these changes have on Google search ads.
We have compared CTR and CPCs across all of our adwords accounts from the last seven days against the previous seven days. In doing so, we discovered the CTR has increased approximately 22.62% (0.44% average per campaign). Simultaneously, CPC has gone down 15.25% ($0.61 average per campaign). Additionally, we are seeing a 12.16% impression share gain (6.06% per campaign).
Previously, 85% of Google search ad clicks went to the top 3 ads. The remaining 15% were split up amongst the ads on the side. With the ads on the side now missing, it is safe to assume that the ads on top of the Google search results page will receive the remaining percentage of clicks. This explains the gain in CTR that we are currently experiencing.
Please keep in mind, Google’s recent changes are still very fresh. It is too early to make any guaranteed statements regarding the full impact of this change. The market is still unsteady as advertisers regain their balance and redefine their strategy.
We have begun adapting our paid search strategies to compensate for these changes. We will also continue to monitor the effects of the Google core update over the oncoming weeks and share more data and analysis as things progress.