AdWords Removes Right Sidebar Ads

Feb 23 2016


The SEM industry has been abuzz with AdWords’ recent decision to remove right sidebar ads. They’ve been testing this view for some time but last week confirmed the official removal which is currently being rolled out worldwide.


Why the Change, AdWords?


Nobody but Google really knows why they do what they do. They’ve always been deliberately mysterious about their actions when it comes to search, possibly fearing people will work the “system” should they share too much info. What we do know is Google has made a multitude of changes to the SERP over the last two years between font changes, their knowledge graph, and of course their many algorithm updates.


Some speculate this recent AdWords change is Google’s attempt to make the desktop and tablet search engine results page (SERP) mimic the mobile search view. Others think—with the addition of knowledge graph—that they just want to de-clutter the screen. And another theory is that they want to bring more attention to product listing ads (they’ve been testing different placements of these over the last several months as well).


While it’s possible to get some traction in the right side ads, the top ads have undeniably been better performers. We know that tops of the page ads tend to get the most interaction. The first position itself has been credited with 33%+ clicks.


So Where Will My Ads Show?


Text Ads will only appear on the top and bottom of the search engine results page. The exception is Product Listing Ads (PLA) and ads within the Knowledge Panel will still appear to the top right. PLAs may also appear at the top of the page, even above text ads depending on the view (Google has a number of different views for displaying SERP).


Google hasn’t decided yet how many ads will appear at the top. Feedback coming in from the SEM forums are indicating SERPs showing 3 ads as well as 4. Increasing the number of top ads means further pushing organic listing down the page but also giving advertisers more opportunity to gain the click.


Impact Predictions


1. The most obvious prediction is cost per click may rise. They’ve reduced the “real estate” available and advertisers may be more aggressive about bids, driving the auction click price (and Google’s revenue stream) up.

2. Increasing the number of top ads from 3 to 4 means further pushing organic listing down the page but also giving advertisers more opportunity to gain the click.

3. PLAs may perform better with less competition from text ads. Decluttering may allow the images a better chance to “pop”.

Do you have questions about your Google AdWords program? Drop Mambo a line—we’re here to help.

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