Google removes side PPC ads

You may have heard about Google removing the side ads from the search results and increasing the ads to 4 at the top of the results. The global roll out is scheduled for 22nd February 2016. London Hotels This is the view of the search results above the fold on laptops with the standard screen resolution. London Hotels 2 The search results now mirror the mobile results look and feel.  

What does this mean?

This change feels like Google are pushing brands to focus on having good presence for the terms that matter to them, especially for the head terms. While PPC has always been seen as the conversion channel with generics forming part of the branding and introduction strategy, it now feels like PPC is moving more towards branding as some advertisers will undoubtedly not want to sacrifice exposure. There will be advertisers who feel they can’t afford to not appear on the SERP and as such they will have to change their strategy. This scenario will mean that KPIs will need to be reviewed. There are some obvious implications to your account performance you should be aware of…

  • Impressions will reduce as there are now less positions available.
  • Top 4 CPCs will increase as competition for the top position heats up, especially for position 4. Advertisers outside of the top 4 will want the last of the top positions to help limit CPC increases.
  • Increased CPCs could lead to less traffic if budgets stay flat. However, the CTR is likely to improve.
  • If you were appearing on the right had side and applied a positive mobile bid adjustment to appear in the top 3 on a mobile device, it is likely that this will need to be adjusted. If you increase desktop/tablet CPCs to appear in the new top 4 then the current mobile bid adjustment may inflate your mobile CPC.
  • Organic results pushed further down the SERP, this is emphasised when the local pack is present as displayed in the images above.
    • For brands with physical locations the local pack is even more important now due to the organic listings being less visible.

This change doesn’t necessarily mean your traffic is going to fall off a cliff. You should however, get a closer understanding of the position split across the Google Search keywords, top vs. other. This will give you an idea of the volume of traffic you may now lose. Lost traffic  

What next?

Before thinking about CPC and budget increases, the primary objective should be to work smarter via the following targeting option:

  • Demographic targeting
  • RLSAs
  • Customer matching
  • Similar audience

Increase CPCs for the right users, for the right keywords and at the right time. You will probably find that you can replace existing traffic with better qualified traffic. Once you have applied these options and performance efficiency has improved you’ll be in a better position to request more budget to enable greater reach and increase the number of conversions. Look out for our follow up in 2-3 weeks when we analyse the impact this has had for our clients globally. To discuss your AdWords targeting strategy get in touch with the team.  

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