Google Eliminates Ads On The Right Hand Side

How Does This Impact Me?

In February 2016, Google made one of the biggest changes to display of ads in years – the elimination of text ads on the right hand of the screen. While testing had been going on for over five years, this change in the display of ads has been made globally and has significant implications for online traffic.
What exact changes have been made?

  • The textual search ads on the right hand of the search results page have now been eliminated.
  • Four ads instead of three will be shown on the on the top of the page for commercial searches, above the organic listings.
  • Three ads will show at the bottom of the organic listings
  • The total ads shown is a maximum of seven, down from a previous high of 11
  • For product searches Google Shopping product ads may be shown at the top or on the side

Why has Google made these changes?
Google states that these changes are to unify display across devices – so the mobile experience is the same as the desktop experience. However as Google has been testing this format extensively it is almost certainly designed primarily to drive more revenue for Google.

What are the implications?

Google Shopping / Product Listing Ads More Important
More space is being given to product ads delivered via Google Shopping. Therefore if you are promoting products it is more important to become efficient in this channel of advertising. This requires careful shopping feed management and automation of rules in order to deploy an efficient Google Shopping campaign.
Increased bids and Concentration of Traffic to Top Paid Ads
As it is now more important to be in the top four ad positions to gain traffic, bids are expected to increase to gain these positions. This will naturally squeeze weaker advertisers or sites that relied on right hand listings out of the auction, concentrating traffic to fewer sites.
Quality of Ads More Important
As costs increase, relevance and quality score of the ads is more important. Ads must be carefully nurtured along with the content of the landing pages and bidding strategy to produce high quality scores to keep the cost of traffic under control.
Natural Search
As organic rankings may be moved down the page further, decreases in organic traffic are expected. As a result the importance of an integrated SEO and paid search strategy is even more important as competition in the search real estate intensifies. Quality organic rankings and SEO strategy are vital to retain a solid presence in organic search.
Written by Nate Burke

Chester Yang is the Microsoft Program Manager at Diginius with a background in economics and quantitative research.  

At Diginius, Chester focuses on nurturing partnerships with PPC agencies and integrating marketing and sales solutions.