PPC Tip – Goodbye Sidebar: New Google Ad Layout

Zoe - Search ManagerThis week, we welcome a guest post from our Search Manager, Zoe Zhang. Zoe is a PPC + SEO whiz and keeps us up-to-date with the latest + greatest in Search Marketing.

So What’s Changed in Search Marketing?

When performing Google searches recently, have you noticed the page looks a little cleaner + less cluttered? Google debuted a new ad layout at the end of February, eliminating the right side panel text advertisements – this space is now reserved for Google Product Listing Ads.

You will now see that four ads have been added to the top of the search engine results page (SERP) + up to three at the bottom of the SERP, for a total maximum ad count of just seven ads (compared to 11 previously).

New Google Ad Layout

Bottom SERP Ads

This new layout is commonly seen in what Google is calling “highly commercial queries,” or searches expected to garner a high intent to purchase. Some examples are: wedding dress, used car, proposal writing services, + puppy adoption.

Now, depending on the search, you might see Google Shopping Ads in the right side panel. These ads differ from the normal Google text ads. They feature a product image, fed through Google Merchant Center.

Google Shopping Ads

How Does Google’s Change Impact Marketers?

Less real estate for text-based Google Ads (seven ad spots down from the old 11 ad spots), means more competitive bidding for top-of-page ad locations. Simple supply and demand.

Top-of-page ads are more apt to drive up CPCs (Cost per Clicks) than bottom-of-page ads, due to users usually clicking on the first ad or organic search result they see and not scrolling to the bottom of the page.

Are you currently thinking: “Why would Google do this to me?”

According to Google, “[the new] layout is able to provide more relevant results for people searching and better performance for advertisers.”

There is a potential for higher click through rates + better conversions for the ads that get the top 4 ad positions, because competitors’ ads get bumped to the bottom of the SERP. In some cases, organic search results are not listed above the fold (the point when you need to scroll to see more content), which will lead to potentially higher click through rates for paid ads (the first results searchers will see).

Unfortunately, more focused results for users comes at a higher price tag for advertisers, thus hurting those with smaller PPC budgets + resources. Additionally, how you present your text-based ad matters more than ever, with fewer opportunities to get noticed by the customer.

So What?

Evaluate where your ads are stacking up in highly commercial queries. As the new format takes hold, you will probably notice your spend going up and your impressions going down. You will need to reevaluate campaign ROI and make adjustments. Try getting creative with new campaign ideas and longer tail keywords.

I warned you! Keep a close eye on your campaigns with this new Google ad layout.