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Google AdWords Switching to 4 Ads on Top, None on Sidebar

     
11:55 pm on Feb 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

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http://www.thesempost.com/google-adwords-switching-to-4-ads-on-top-none-on-sidebar/ [thesempost.com]

Google AdWords Switching to 4 Ads on Top, None on Sidebar

It seems that Google is rolling out a change to Google AdWords that sees 4 ads at the top of the search results, none on the sidebar at all, and an additional 3 ads at the bottom of the search results. This replaces the usual mix of top, bottom and sidebar-heavy AdWords ads, depending on the specific search result.
12:21 pm on Feb 26, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Seems to be no rhyme or reason determining how many ads end up at top of page, could be anywhere from 0 to 4 ads at any given time.

If I had to guess it feels like the machine is trying to hit advertiser CPA goals by manipulating the display of ads.
12:46 pm on Feb 26, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I took calls from smaller advertisers wondering where their ads have gone. Note, these are not adwords programmes i manage, but have done in the past.

If its going to be down to ad spend, these guys are toast.
9:38 am on Feb 27, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I've just noticed that Shopping results are now on the right hand side.

There is one title and one picture at the top with 5 results underneath that show the price and the shop name. Then there is a view more link which reveals another 5.

If you are not in the top 10 for Shopping, only people who click the Shopping link at the top of the page will see your advert.

EDIT: It seems to appear when Google think you are looking for a specific product, where the shopping results may have resulted in 5 identical images previously. If you search for generic items, you still get the old shopping format and the right column is blank.
6:23 pm on Feb 27, 2016 (gmt 0)

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For us it was productive to aim for visibility in the side bar without chasing after the highest positions.

We're taking the approach that we'll keep the bids we've got and adjust cautiously to see what's cost-effective in the new landscape.
6:29 pm on Feb 27, 2016 (gmt 0)

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For us it was productive to aim for visibility in the side bar without chasing after the highest positions.


Same here, made good money in the side bar. Testing some top of page ads since the change, *seems* like ctr is down, still early yet though.
8:25 pm on Feb 27, 2016 (gmt 0)

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2016 - ads on top and bottom
2017 - ads on top, bottom, and between..
9:27 am on Feb 28, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Hey Everyone,

First off, QS has not changed. Ad Rank is still QS, bids, and ad extensions.

Google has played with doing this several times, the first time 3+ years ago. One of the reasons, other than bringing the SERps in line with mobile, is that bottom ads actually have better CTRs than side ads overall (that's a weighted average of the entire sidebar, not just top right rail vs the entire bottom). In addition, the ads will be more consistent. Right now the side ads don't have sitelinks, callouts, etc - so they look very different from the top/bottom ads. By only using wide ad formats, all the ads will have a similar feel.

I think there will be some winners & losers overall:

Winners:
  • heavy ad testers, you no longer have to figure out if your sitelinks were showing, not showing, etc. The ads are now consistent.
  • people who have a bid system in place. It's easy to get into a bid war unnecessarily, and with fewer ad slots, its going to happen more and more; so those who let math dictate parts of their account over emotions are going to do OK; but they might get less conversions from search as they get fewer clicks
  • position 4 ads: The ctr on position 4 is skyrocketing. Depending on the keyword, position 4 is going to have a 400%-1000% CTR increase.
  • ecommerce: Expect to see more shopping ads on a consistent basis.


Losers:
  • Aggregators: Often the large SMB premier partners want to show 'proof of advertising'; and having less ads on the page is going to make that harder. With fewer ad slots, those who are managing 10-20+ companies in the same geo vertical will have problems as there are less ad impressions to go around.
  • Low sophistication advertisers in competitive verticals: With fewer ad slots, advertising becomes more competitive, and those who are bidding just to show vs bidding for a business purpose are going to eventually run into issues.
  • Low margin businesses/arbitrage: The 1st page bids will be higher with fewer ad slots; so companies with thin margins are going to have a lot of words fall to page 2.


Unaffected:
  • Brand based bidders
  • Niche companies
  • Any display & video campaigns
  • Primarily mobile advertisers. Mobile got another ad slot last year.
4:50 am on Feb 29, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I just noticed my pocket is wet. I better head off and dry it out. Been fun everyone!
5:11 am on Feb 29, 2016 (gmt 0)

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The ctr on position 4 is skyrocketing. Depending on the keyword, position 4 is going to have a 400%-1000% CTR increase.


One has to wonder how much of that increase is from accidental clicks on ads that searchers thought were organic search results.
4:38 pm on Feb 29, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I don't think any of the winners are going to have much of a complaint, and anyone in the loser sector is going to feel very frustrated.

There so much real estate on the desktop SERPs that is unused and i'm wondering if there's a plan to make use of it. I can think of things that could go there.
12:50 pm on Mar 4, 2016 (gmt 0)

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It's still early but we have not been able to find any middle ground, it seems like it's either ON or OFF, mostly off. For us there was never any money in the top spots, just a bunch of goofballs clicking whatever google puts in front of them. I think we are just going to lay back for a while and see how google likes the new format before we get back into spending.
7:25 pm on Apr 19, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Mega change.

Bump for further analysis.

After 10 years and peaking my spent at $50K per/yr. I've been slowly shutting Adwords campaigns down. Lots and lots of bots and zombie traffic. Have not touched mobile with a 10 foot pole it stinks so bad, very hard to identify mobile distributed click botnets vs. real people, other than "you get clicks but no conversions".

It seems to me that after bumping cost per click 1000% and more from about 10 cents in late 2000-th to above $1 (and $2 in some places in my niche), Google is clearly looking to get paid even more. Yet, IMHO, clicks are becoming more and more worthless. So they are limiting inventory to keep prices up and focus on niches where there's competition and very high PPC ROI.
6:12 am on July 7, 2016 (gmt 0)

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@CIWebMarketing - I know exactly what you are talking about. I was involved in the re-branding of a semi-big software business, leader in their niche. We had digital advertisement done internally. Yet our CTR and conversions tanked and our 3xSmaller competitor got the lions share of the good conversions. Why? Because they work with one of the big Google Partner agencies and are heavily involved in DoubleClick campaigns again via a leading digital agency. Only when we had several talks with the regional Google director after 2 months of heavy escalations we got the same treatment and magically over night our conversions and CTR came back to the old levels, of course at the cost of DOUBLING our digital ad spend.

The double standard was never more prominent in Adwords and DoubleClick....sad, really sad.
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