Google Eliminates Right-side Ads – What You Need to Know

03.01.16 / Matt Owings / Digital Marketing

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You may have heard last week that Google made some major changes by eliminating the right-side ad positions and will now only serve ads in positions 1-4, above the organic results. Ads positioned 5-7 will now be displayed at the bottom of the page.

Since the advent of the search engine, eye-tracking studies have shown that users tend to gravitate towards the top of the page listings, followed by the top organic results. With the #4-7 ads on the right-side bar yet still above the fold, it gave advertisers the next best real-estate in which to showcase their messaging, rather than being at the bottom of the page in which the user would need to scroll through 10+ organic results in order to see them.

With this change, that real estate is gone, putting the premium on being in positions 1-4 in order to have any reach to potential consumers.

Simply put, if you are running campaigns in Adwords, you will likely see changes to CPCs and overall traffic as competition for those top four spots will probably increase.

In order to adapt, there are a few items to keep in mind:

Set Expectations

The biggest area of impact is that we can expect costs to rise: demand is still there, but the supply is much smaller. The result could be a steady growth in CPCs and overall costs. So that hypothetical current $2.00 CPC could easily jump to $3 overnight without any warning. A higher CPC, at the existing budgets, would mean a decrease in site traffic. So in order to keep the traffic/leads/sales numbers consistent, it will likely mean needing to reevaluate budget.

Ad relevance will need to improve

For each ad being run, advertisers need to consider improving the relevance of each ad, to best utilize the 25/35/35 and display URL character spaces to ensure ad clicks. With each click and improvement of CTR (and scores), an advertiser only increases the chance for a higher position (and potentially at a lower CPC).

Increase CPCs if needed

Advertisers that now show ads in right-side positions should explore raising bids to ensure above-the-fold presence. To do so, within Adwords you can segment reports by “Top vs. Other” to identify opportunities for bid increases, and use top-of-page bid estimates to get an idea of how much to bid. Likewise, advertisers that show ads in positions 8-11 should consider bidding higher to reach position 7 (or better) to remain on first page.

Utilize RLSA:

Remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA) is a feature that lets you customize your search ads campaign for people who have previously visited your site, and tailor your bids and ads to these visitors when they’re searching on Google. Use RLSA to help get to the top slot more often for your most valuable users.

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Expand use of ad extensions

One problem with the right-side ads was that they did not permit the same ad extensions as top and bottom listings. As now all listings are top and bottom, it is important to enable all relevant extensions. Not only do extensions provide more ad visibility, more qualified users, and more clicks and conversions, but they also factor into Ad Rank.

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Perhaps the biggest impact of this change will be a positive one: opportunity to work together

Search marketing through Google Adwords is a fluid tool that is always evolving. Algorithm changes, policy updates, and more drastic alterations like the elimination of right-side ads put an even larger premium on having SEM expertise when it comes to running your campaigns. That’s when MGH steps in…

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