Here’s What It Means For PPC and Google
A big change is happening in the Google SERPs! A fortnight ago Google confirmed that they will be removing text ads from the right-hand sidebar on the search results page. The Google sidebar PPC ads have been a feature of AdWords from it’s beginnings in 2000 but very soon they’ll be gone from the desktop version of Google. This will have a number of effects, although there is some disagreement over what they will be, time will tell!
The removal of the Google sidebar PPC results means that the new maximum number of ads on a search results page drops from 11 to 7. At the top of the page there will be 4 ads above the organic results and 3 at the bottom of the page, below the organic results. The sidebar ads were limited, they couldn’t use ad extensions or have a two full-line description like ads in the body of the page. However they did have the advantage of being at the top of the page, which meant they were clicked more often than ads at the bottom of the page despite having less to work with.
There is disagreement over whether these changes will have a significant effect on the Cost-Per-Click for page 1 results. On the one hand the principles of supply and demand say that now there are 4 less spaces for ads on the first page of Google the remaining ad spaces will become more valuable. This however assumes all ad spaces are equal, which isn’t the case. Before this change there were only 3 results above the organic results, now there will be 4. The majority of Ad spend used to go to the top 3 spots, now there will be 4.
The ads above organic results receive 80%+ of clicks, we can safely assume that with a 4th ad that percentage will only increase. The question is whether increased supply at the most expensive level cancels out decreased supply overall? Only time will tell, currently there isn’t enough data to make a well informed conclusion either way. What we do know is any Advertisers or Marketers with PPC campaigns running will need to be watching their campaigns very closely over the coming months!
One side-effect of this change I would predict is a slight increase in Social Ad spend as ads below the Organic Results will not offer the same brand awareness as they did when occupying the sidebar. What we can be sure of is that Google rarely makes any move they’re not reasonably certain will make them more money. With the exception of the ill fated Google+ venture they’ve almost always ‘got it right.’ That should give us confidence that they’ve modeled ad spend changes and tracked the trials closely and expect our experience to be the same or better when it comes to placing and running PPC ads.
Product Listing Ads will still occupy the sidebar and there are signs Google is looking to expand this type of Ad in the near future.
Paid Search expert Jack Porter-Smith is a Google AdWords Top Contributor who we’ve interviewed about all things PPC on multiple occasions; speaking about the changes that have been confirmed he had a few insights and predictions. With all ads now having access to the full range of extensions and text characters the CTR of ads 5-7 will increase and with an extra slot above the organic results it’s unlikely you will see any significant loss in traffic as long as you remain on page 1. Top ad positions may be rotated, so 8-12 advertisers will share the top 4 spots. It’s unlikely advertisers will have the budget to maintain their ad rank 24/7, this means proper bidding strategy is more important than ever and you really need to have someone dedicated to tracking and strategising around your PPC at this time.
You can watch a full 45 minute interview with Jack Porter-Smith on all things PPC here.