So Google has officially pulled the plug on right-hand ads (also known as sidebar ads). They’ve been testing this for quite some time, but now it’s actually happening across the world. The cut-off day was Friday 19th February. As of now, Google will only be showing ads at the top and bottom of the search engine results page (SERP). This can change for searches that are highly commercial.
While the change is good for users, it does seem counter-productive for a company that makes its money from advertising – why reduce the ad space on a page? What does this mean for advertisers? Who can take advantage of the changes?
Google Removes Right Hand Ads – The Facts
Well, here are the cold, hard facts:
- The right-hand space will still be used for Product Listing Ads and ‘Knowledge Graph Boxes‘ – learn more about those here.
- Knowledge Graph ads will still appear.
- 3 ads will appear at the top of the page (possible 4 for more commercial searches, with 3 at the bottom of the page. That’s 7 spots.
- Things are about to get seriously competitive (and potentially expensive) for the top spots.
- According to some sources the reasoning behind the change could be because Google have deemed the click through rate on Right Hand Ads too low, across many verticals, and so increased ad spend on other areas will make up for removing the right hand ads.
- The change makes organic space even more important. To see Broadplace’s SEO offering, click here.
- Because the right hand space will still be used for Product Listing Ads (Google Shopping), so eCommerce customers should take advantage and up their spend on PLAs.
- Moz’s Dr. Pete Myers reported that their data went from less than 0.1% of tracked search results having 4 ads above the fold, to a massive 19%. SEOs are going to find that organic listings are pushed even further down the SERP, especially on commercially-popular searches like car insurance or hotels.
Of 10K SERps, almost 6K had top ads. Breakdown:
1 ad – 36%
2 ads – 17%
3 ads – 28%
4 ads – 19%
— Dr. Pete Meyers (@dr_pete) February 19, 2016
Google’s statement on the change said,
“We’ve been testing this layout for a long time, so some people might see it on a very small number of commercial queries. We’ll continue to make tweaks, but this is designed for highly commercial queries where the layout is able to provide more relevant results for people searching and better performance for advertisers.”
Anjay Ramanlal, Digital Manager at Broadplace Advertising, had this advice for advertisers:
“If you have a low/restrictive budget, it will be very difficult to be competitive in the future and you will struggle to get enough impressions to make PPC worthwhile. If you find yourself in position 4 and below consistently, things are about to get really tough. If PPC is already profitable, look at investing more where necessary. You can contact us today for further advice on this topic – even if you’re not already a Broadplace client.”
On a slightly more amusing note, the Google AdWords twitter guys were taking in their stride the ribbing on social media from PPCers waiting for the official announcement:
@PPCKirk Might we suggest adding “Hanging by a Moment” by Lifehouse and “Patience” by Guns n’ Roses? 🙂 -Ian
— Google AdWords (@adwords) February 19, 2016
Anjay is available for concerned customers who want to talk through the ramifications of this change. Even if you’re not already a Broadplace customer, he’s happy to chat through what Broadplace intends to do to make things easier for its clients who may be effected by this announcement. Contact Anjay today at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07805 760 471.