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AdWords Drops the Box and Goes Clear

CTR up and ROI down!?

     
6:27 am on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Continued from: [webmasterworld.com...]


I was doing a search, and Google seems to have eliminated the colored boxes the adwords used to appear in on the right side.

I don't think they stand out nearly as well as they used to, but it does mean the there could be more ads on the side bar than there used to be.

Not so sure I like this change. But they still do display adwords on top of the serps in the colored bar.

[edited by: Brett_Tabke at 4:40 pm (utc) on Mar. 29, 2004]

6:31 am on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Just saw one interface that was much different and not just the bars missing from the ads.
6:38 am on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Ah, yes, they've eliminated the green popularity bar underneath the ads as well. I knew there was something else missing, but couldn't think of what it was. They still need to update all their Adwords promo information to reflect the new site design, unless the change is only a temporary beta phase to test reaction and CTRs of the new style vs. the old style.

<added>The popularity bar is still showing up in the advertiser account where it shows the ad creative in campaign management. Either it isn't permanent, or the changes haven't been rolled out to the advertiser end of things yet.</added>

6:47 am on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I'm seeing a different header on the page, a line down the page between the ads and regular SERPs & much more space betwen the SERPs and the Ads as well.
8:38 am on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I think they look terrible. They worked fine for me before and really didn't need these changes. I hope google knows what it's doing, I guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens...
8:54 am on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I think that google may be learning leasons from its publishers....
For most publishers white on white backround works best for adsense.
IMO Google seems to have followed this and are trying to stop the question...
"Why are these other boxes on the right of my searched word/phrase in a different colour?" .....
Answer.. "Arhh they are 'Sponsored Links'"....
Possible conclustion... "Im not going to click on them if they have to PAY to get into my search list. If they are not good enough to get into the google lists for free, they are not good enough for me!"
Eliminating this line of thought may increase the CTR for the G site. I guess its a case of watch this 'adwords' space!
8:57 am on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I think it'll be even more important to get into the top 2 premium spots with this new design.

I'd be surprised if the normal Adwords overall CTR doesn't go down somewhat.

9:23 am on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I 'm amazed everyone just saw this ..it's been in place since at least a week now ...

My prediction is that within 6 months they'll move the ads to the top of the page ...remove the blue bar ..and finally pay for position will be with us ...

You've only got to see the last 6 months ...the only things you could consistantly find from one day to te next in the serps were the "spammy" directories with the ads...so ...why not go the whole hog?

The main effect of the new formot is to make it harder to see that these are ads ...now they just look like misplaced standard serps results ...

Joe and Jane public are not going to realise they are "paid for" ....they are going to think they are the most relevant ....

9:57 am on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I 'm amazed everyone just saw this ..it's been in place since at least a week now ...

A limited number of users were seeing it while they were doing some testing. The wide release launch for this was a few hours ago, so now everyone is seeing it, rather than just a limited few.

10:45 am on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I know this is very very early days, but of the statistics from the day so far (only 28,000 impressions), my overall account CTR is only 1/3 of what it was yesterday.

My premium-position ads have a slightly higher CTR, but my ads on the side have a significantly lower CTR than the old coloured boxes.

Hope it evens out over the rest of the day...

7:12 am on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Has anyone noticed that with the new Google design the Sponsored Links boxes are not clickable, only the title links are?
7:49 am on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Yep saw that. I guess it has to "feel" like the SERPs as much as possible. Let's see what this does for CTR and ROI.
8:27 am on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

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lets give it 24 hours and then take a look at CTR ...

Shak

8:29 am on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

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The top two 'old premium positions' still have large clickable boxes. I will be checking the CTR of these compared with the AdWords down the right hand side of the page.
10:21 am on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

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The thing that annoys me is the part that 'looks' like a link in both the SERPS and Ads (www.widgets.com) is unclickable. Very few other users will mind this and it's not hard to click the title instead but it's a personal thing - if it looks and has text like a link, make it a link.

Part of me supports only having the link linkified (as opposed to the entire box) because people will actually have to mean to click on the link, so it won't be accidental clicking that doesn't convert in the long run.

Also, I think a lot of people like having blue underlined links (the old days...) and know they're the clickable bit. The old style mightn't have made it as clear.

The other part of me thinks it looks boring, the ads no longer stand out and look like normal results, if not even smaller. Those people don't pay, we do. I think Adwords should look different and stand out and the new design does nothing for this.

Also the top blue boxes being exactly the same means your advert seems attatched to your competitor's, some customers may think you're affiliated, or just click anywhere in the blue box and get the wrong link ('wrong' in this case being the competitors Ad).

But then stats will tell...

3:15 pm on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Since the whole ad isn't clickable anymore, there may be less accidental clicks. Might be an improvement.
3:19 pm on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

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It seems every day I have less satisfaction with Google.

Changes in Broadmatching logic have meant many more hours managing our AW account and higher cost to retain traffic.

Now This.....

very dissapointing.

The more ROI slips, the more $ we shift over to Overture.

Soon, we will be spending more On Overature than Google.

3:37 pm on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Not sure if they're heading in the right direction... wasn't the original idea not to confuse (and mislead) users as to what was paid and organic?

This may be good for advertisers, but the public may have some backlash if they think they're being duped (again).

3:45 pm on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I can't make heads or tails of it. I think the ads look more like search results - good for click-thru because they won't get overlooked as "ads" by some people.

But they also run together visually - therefore they don't stand out, therefore fewer people will click on them.

A wash, as far as I'm concerned.

3:45 pm on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

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The search engine they most look like now is 7Search. Too funny.
3:49 pm on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

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The interface went live yesterday. or possibly before, but i did notice that it had changed on Sunday.
3:58 pm on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

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they don't look clearly like ads enough anymore. this will mean less 'trust' of the whole service.

I thought the whole point was NOT to dupe the consumer.

Google is certainly going 'corporate' in advance of their IPO.

Lets all remember the CTR is G's religion not ours! ROI is ours. They had better hope ROI goes up.

Our ROI has been going down due to higher costs related to the destruction of broadmatching logic.

4:22 pm on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I have some experience with other engines that made the sponsored stuff less obvious in the past. That helped CTR. My current campaigns seem to be doing roughly the same as the average so far, but it is to early to tell (about ROI which is what I measure on).

According to previous postings, conversions "left" and "right" should be similar, if that's true it probably does not make a big difference.

4:39 pm on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

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The real question is:

How much of an increase in the ctr has occured? It is obvious it is up significantly this morning already.

4:56 pm on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

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How much of an increase in the ctr has occured? It is obvious it is up significantly this morning already.

Who cares about CTR? Not me! it is ROI I care about (epecially the "R" part)

We sell an expensive service with large profit margins but very low conversion rates. So, for us it takes months to get a sense of average ROI.

Instead, we track the number of page views per keyword. The farther into the site visitors penetrate gives us a 'sort of' ROI.

Since the interface change yesterday and today, our average PV's per Google visitor are down 20% where as PV's per Overture visitor has remained the same.

Google's interface chaneg seems like a big mistake.

5:00 pm on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I know that they've done a lot of testing on the entire UI design, including several different layouts of the ads. Personally, I think the UI team balanced a lot of factors out really well. When the whole box was clickable, you could sometimes get accidental clicks by users, which were not as good for advertiser's conversions. You want to keep advertisements clearly marked (the green dividing line, the different background color on top ads, the 'Sponsored Links' header that got a little more white space around it to my eye), but there's also an important underlying concept in my mind that AdWords are results for a search as well, and that especially for commercial searches, AdWords can provide as much information as the regular search results. Again, this is all just my take on it. Some people may see higher CTR and some people may see lower CTR, but please give the whole UI a week or so to be used by searchers.
5:08 pm on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

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testing the UI does not mean much to me.

But a 20% Decline in Average Page views per visitor certainly sends me a message -- The added visitors are less relevant by a fifth!

I'd bet I could tell you the hour this change went live because the sudden drop in PV's is that obvious in our tracking.

If this continues, Google has instantly become 20% less valuable to us. And therefore, Overature just got 20% more valuable.

[edited by: nyet at 5:16 pm (utc) on Mar. 29, 2004]

5:15 pm on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I have an idea about the conflicting CTR's people are seeing: If the ads look like search results now, then some people might be *more* inclined to click on the top "ranking" ad - just as they would for the natural results.

However, if you've made a strategy out of hovering in the lower-ranked boxes because they're more cost-effective, then I bet the new white-wash look is hurting you, because there's no visual queue to catch anyone's eye.

5:19 pm on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

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In our case we are in the #1 position for most of our words.

My theory is that users are more confused about weather or not they are ads or not. Now maybe in time users of Google will figure it all out again, but at this moment we are getting more visitors who are averaging LESS pages viewed, so they are less valuable.

Paying more....getting less......

Some one on our staff is right now comparing PV's before and after on those words where we have the top (still colored box) position.

It will be interesting to see if the avg PV's for those words (ads) has changed.

5:38 pm on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I'm not sure what I think about the new ad format yet, but I'll trust that Google has tested this thoroughly before they implemented it.

I'd also think that the first few days stats won't be incredibly accurate while searchers get used to the new format, so we should wait a bit before calling foul.

If ROI drops significantly I'll have complaints too, but I think G would have known that. They're smart enough to know that their advertisers need good ROI, or they'll go elsewhere.

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