Google’s new ad layout – what you need to know
On February 19 Google announced that ads showing on search results pages were to change their layouts and formats. Advertisers wonder what this will mean for cost-per-click, average position and clickthrough rates, but this is what we know so far.
The changes affect search results on Google and its search partners. There’ll be no text ads on the RHS; instead there’ll be four text ads (instead of three) above the organic listings and three below.
Ad blocks and Knowledge Panels (ads may still feature here as Google is still testing) will show up on the RHS.
Why the sudden change?
The move has actually been in development for a while. Google started experimenting with four upper text ads in 2010 and some users saw these ads start to appear in late 2015. More noticed it during February, and then we got the announcement.
The four top ads may show more in “highly commercial” queries – things like “car insurance” and “hotels in New York City”. Basically, Google means searches that show purchasing intent.
Will this change affect Product Listing Ads or tests in Knowledge Panels?
Maybe. Google has tried a few ad tests in Knowledge Panels (they show up on some SERPS) and says they’re here to stay for now.
Google will still experiment with Product Listing Ad layouts – someone saw an expandable PLA last month, which features 16 PLAs above the fold when expanded.
The new sidebar layout will display a Product Listing Ad section.
Is CPC about to get expensive?
We don’t know yet – it’s possible that fewer ads will mean higher prices (supply and demand) but it’s maybe not as easy as that.
Advertisers might not want to pay as much for bottom ads as they did for RHS ads, and higher impression volume on top ads might lower CPC for them. Other pundits disagree. However, it’s a case of wait-and-see until the data is in.
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