Google no longer shows ads at the right: what are the consequences for your campaigns?

Google stops displaying search ads at the right hand side of the search results and from now on, at the top, 4 ads can be displayed.

This weekend, Google started the launch of a new update. This time, no Pandas or Penguins to shake your organic rankings, but an update to the display mode of ads. Google, in fact, stops showing search ads at the right hand side of the search results and from now on, at the top, no less than 4 ads can be displayed.

Let's take a step back. Until this weekend your standard AdWords ads could appear above, below or next to the organic search results:


However, your results will look slightly different very soon: from now on, 4 ads (instead of 3) can be displayed at the top, and the ads at the right of your screen will disappear from the desktop results, albeit with two exceptions:

  • Product Listing Ads (Shopping)
  • Ads in the knowledge graph (eg. To book a hotel room)

Both types of ads will still appear at the right of the search results.

Google was already testing a fourth ad at the top of the search results (even back in 2010), but now this becomes the standard for "very commercial searches," according to the Google statement. This change only applies to the search results on your desktop. On mobile the situation (2 or 3 ads at the top of the results) provisionally remains the same.

The consequences

Now, what are the implications of this change for your Google Adwords campaigns?

In the short term you can expect a decreased exposure, and therefore fewer impressions and visitors, for the campaigns where your average position is lower than 3 or 4.

Because of this fall in exposure, competition for the top spots will become fiercer than ever.

In the longer term this is likely to ensure that the cost per click for ads will be higher.

What can be done to maintain or even improve your results?

Obviously there are as always a number of things you can do as an advertiser to counter these higher costs per click. We see the following options:

  • Work on the quality and relevance of your ads: The more relevant your ads for a particular query, the higher your Quality Score in Google Adwords will become. The higher your Quality Score, the lower the cost per click that you have to pay to maintain the same position.
  • In case of e-commerce websites, this new adjustment gives you even more reasons to start betting more on Shopping campaigns (Product Listing Ads). These campaigns retain the same exposure, making the cost per click more stable.
  • Bet on SEO: as more and more people find the way to Google Adwords, advertising in Google became more expensive in recent years anyway. Therefore, it may be interesting to invest more time and resources in SEO, to win more organic traffic and thus conversions.
  • Last but not least, optimize your website. If the cost per click is rising, you get less traffic on your website for the same media budget. By doing conversion optimization, you can reach a larger number of conversions on a smaller group of visitors.

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