Go Green with your Marketing
April 22, 2016
Making Sense of your Google Analytics Data
April 27, 2016
Show all

Google’s Desktop Advertising is Changing. Here are the Updates you Need to Know

Google desktop advertising changes

Google desktop advertising changes

Google desktop advertising changes

Google’s in the process of making some big changes to the way they display ads to desktop users across their search results pages (for Google.com and Google search partners). If you haven’t already heard, the updates rolling out are sure to have an effect of a number of metrics for advertisers, including CPC bids, impressions, placement results, etc.

You can’t escape what’s happening– these changes are effective worldwide, for all ads, regardless of language — so we want to make sure that know what’s going on.

Here’s what we can tell you:

What’s Changing?

No Ads in the Right Rail (Well, Kind of)

You know those text ads you used to see in the right rail of a Google search results page? Have you noticed that they’re gone?

The removal of text ads from the right rail is probably the most notable change Google has made to their ad layout. Although this may have come as a shock to many advertisers and marketers, Google has apparently been ruminating on the decision for quite some time (since 2010 to be exact). It wasn’t until recently in early 2016 that they pulled the trigger and said goodbye for good to ads in the right rail.

Well, almost that is.

While it’s true that text ads are no more, Product Listing Ad blocks and Knowledge Panels (sometimes including ads) will still show in the right rail for certain queries.

4 Ads Above the Organic Search Results

Where you would once see three text ads displayed in the area above Google’s organic search results, you may now find four, depending on your search.

Specifically, this is the result for more “highly commercial queries” (Uh what? Don’t worry, we cover that below.) But with more valuable space now being taken up on the SERPs (search engine results pages), what does this mean for your marketing metrics?

For one, this change has the potential to have a tremendous impact on SEO. Site owners need to step up their SEO game in order to compete for the now even more limited space on the first page of Google’s organic search results.

Highly Commercial Queries

What constitutes a highly commercial query? Your definition may certainly differ from that Google’s. But, in short, it describes queries that Google perceives as indicative of intent to purchase. According to Google, an example would be “hotels in New York.”

Three Text Ads at the Bottom of the SERPs

No, those ads weren’t always there. One of Google’s more subtle changes to their ad layout is the inclusion of three text ads in the space below the search results. Again, this means greater competition in terms of ranking organically on the first search results page.

Less Ads on the SERPs Overall

Although more text ads have been added to the bottom and top of the SERPs, there are actually less ads on search pages overall. The number has shrunk from as many as 11 text ads, to a maximum of 7 total.

However, with a decreased number of ads per page, many advertisers worry that CPC costs will actually increase due to supply and demand. But, there is still not enough data to support this speculation.

It’s still unknown whether or not advertisers will be willing to bid the same minimum amounts for bottom-of-the-page ads as they had for right rail ads, and how bids for coveted, top-of-the-page-ads will shift.

Google’s advertising is ch-ch-changing — make sure you keep up! Knowing what you now know about the updates to the ad layout, you can prepare and adjust your ad campaigns as you discover how these changes impact your SEO and paid search results.


Samantha Leonard
Samantha is a Digital Marketing associate at Boston Logic, who works closely with the Marketing and Sales teams to create engaging and valuable content, with the goal of educating leads and guiding them through the buyers journey.