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Google axes right hand sidebar ads

Feb 23 2016

What’s happening?

This week there’s been some big PPC news from Google. The search giant has confirmed that search results pages on desktop will no longer show text ads in the right sidebar. Instead, up to four text ads will display above the organic listings, and three text ads will show at the bottom of the page. These updates apply to Google across the globe and their search partners.

Whilst the change may appear sudden, Google’s behaviour in the last few years has indicated that a change to the way that ads are displayed could be expected.

According to Search Engine Land, Google has been experimenting with placing four ads, rather than three, above the organic results since 2010. They initially implemented this approach just on mortgage queries and also began to remove ads from the right hand sidebar last year.

So far Google has stated that four ads may show instead of three for ‘highly commercial queries’, such as “hotels in London” or “house insurance”.

As an advertiser, how will you be impacted by this change?

Some agencies are predicting that with fewer ad spaces available (7 rather than 11), there will be increased competition over the remaining spaces. Sound logic, but then Google run the risk of a loss in revenue from those smaller advertisers who can no longer keep up with the Joneses and decide their PPC budget would be better spent elsewhere.

So, what will the effects be?

Well, to be frank, it’s too soon to tell. At this point so early on in the roll-out, any opinion, including mine, is likely to be speculation and should be taken with a pinch of salt.

One interesting note is that these changes may force organic results below the fold completely – which may impact SEO activities negatively.

We’ll have a better idea about what this change means for the companies that we work with on PPC campaigns once Google’s change is complete and the dust settles. Then the real analysis can begin and we’ll be able to see how this change has affected the number of impressions, cost per click, click through rates, average position and a whole host of other key metrics.

Make sure you check back to find out the results in the months to come!

If you’d like to hear how we can help your company achieve key business objectives using PPC, a range of other digital activities, or PR then please get in touch.