Google is Moving Pay Per Click Ads From Right Side to Bottom of Search Results

By November 15, 2011PPC

As if introducing changes to the search algorithm to favor freshness of content when ranking pages for organic search and blocking keyword tracking in analytics for searches from users signed into their Google account was not enough, Google has announced that it’s going to stop displaying right side ads for paid search and replace them with Yahoo-style ads at the bottom of the page.

It seems the change is being rolled out gradually and at this time shows up mostly for searches done when logged into the account. I first noticed the change a week ago, but decided to dig in and test both logged in and logged out.

My sample search was “bookstores” and I saw the following results.

Search results for keyword “bookstores” when logged out of Google account

Google paid search ads at top and right - Confluence Digital blog







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Search results for keyword “bookstores”  when logged in to Google account

Screenshot of Google ads at bottom of SERPs - Confluence Digital blog







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And that’s not all, folks… A corollary of those changes Google is rolling out other features that will impact search advertisers on their network. I’d like to point out one other element that is now visible and accessible.

When you now look closely at the paid search ad, you’ll notice that you’re being asked “Why this Ad?” and when you click on it, a pop-up appears that encourages you to click a further link to your personalized Ads Preferences Manager.

Screenshot of ad opt out for Google paid search - Confluence Digital blog





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When you follow that link while logged in, you will arrive at a page which explains ad personalization including a link to a video.

Google explains ad personalization - Confluence Digital blog







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Here the user has the option to block all paid search ads or select ads from individual advertisers whose ads were featured in the current search result.

How to opt out or block individual advertisers in Google - Confluence Digital blog





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How will the changes in ad placement impact AdWords advertisers?

So what does it all mean? I frankly think it is premature to jump to conclusions on how all of those changes will impact AdWords advertisers. Yes, Google has changed the game… again, but it is too soon to judge whether the change is good or bad. We need more data before we can make any pronouncements. We can assume that Google has done the homework on this – you would think they would care, since paid search is a big chunk of revenue for them. They suggest advertisers evaluate the “top” vs. “other” performance of their ads in AdWords to start benchmarking ad performance based on position.

That said, one likely outcome is more competition “at the top” leading to advertisers being willing to pay more per click in order to have a shot at the top of the page spots.

There are also fewer slots on the page overall, and that’s likely to push up the cost of being on page #1 of SERPs, since fewer advertisers can show up on the first page with the new page layout.

No matter what, besides more revenue to Google, one outcome of the changes should be a better user experience. That is Google’s stated goal, since the need to compete over fewer spots will force advertisers to work even harder at ensuring their headline is attention grabbing, the ad copy clearly states the offer, and the content on the landing page is relevant. In fact, this development fits right in with Google’s other recent announcement that it would weigh landing pages more heavily when calculating the Quality Score.

No matter, we’re all in this together. We are all being impacted equally, and I look forward to observing and measuring the results of this change in our client campaigns. I’d be interested in hearing from other advertisers on what you learn in the coming weeks and months. Please feel free to contact me via content or on Twitter @DorotaUmeno.

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Dorota Umeno

Author Dorota Umeno

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