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Google to Stop Showing Right Rail Ads

In the last few days, reports have been popping up about Google’s decision to remove ads from the right rail on their search engine, and Google officially confirmed this change on Friday (read more on Search Engine Land ).

Google has been testing this change since as early as 2010 according to some reports, and has likely been gathering data on how it will affect things like user experience, click through rates, supply and demand on the SERP page, bid prices and ultimately its revenues. Below is a short analysis of the changes and the recommended steps to deal with them. To speak to us about how cClearly technology can help you deal with these changes, contact us at .

What do these changes mean for advertisers?

  • CPCs get more competitive and it will get more expensive to show up in any of the top positions

It is still unclear whether this move will lead to an increase in click through rates for the top positions and how significant it will be.  Also unknown is how drastically click through rates for any ad not in the top 3 or 4 positions will drop as a result of moving to the bottom of the page. However, it is expected that click through rates for any ad which is not in one of the top positions will drop more dramatically than the increase in click through rates for those in the top positions. This effectively means that there will be less ad inventory on the page and more competition for the top positions, which will lead to an increase in CPCs.

If your ad is not in one of the top 4 ad positions, expect your click through rates to drop and to receive less traffic from those keywords. If your ad is in one of the top positions, expect to start paying higher CPCs for that traffic.

  • Organic rankings will get pushed further down the page

According to Google, “very commercial queries” will now have 4 ads on the top of the page instead of the usual 3. This is expected to push the organic results on many commercial search terms below the fold, decreasing click through rates on organic listings and giving more prominence to the paid ads.

If you have a strong organic footprint, expect to see a decline in organic traffic as a result of the change, especially on some of the more commercial search queries. If you aren’t in one of the top organic positions for the search term, the effect on your organic traffic may be minimal.

The Good News

The good news is that these changes will affect each and every one of your competitors as well and marketers that choose to embrace these changes faster and more diligently than others are more likely to come out on top. So what you can do to deal with these changes?

  • Have a very solid understanding on the value of each keyword you bid on

Since bids for the top positions will go up, you want to be very selective about which terms you are willing to pay a premium for. This first and foremost will require you to have a very good understanding of your conversion rates at the individual keyword level.

  • Understand which search terms are considered to be more “commercial”

Being in position 3, 4 or 5 can make all the difference in terms of being at the top or the bottom of the page and the difference between a low click through rate or a high one. The CPC differences will become steeper than ever and so will the ultimate click volumes. If it’s a Keyword for which you perform well, you want to ensure you are at the top of the page.

  • Have a very granular keyword list

These changes will require you to have a very granular keyword list to allow you to adjust your bids more selectively as well as provide the most precise match possible between the search query and the keyword. A good keyword list will be comprised of many Exact matches and narrowly-defined Broad Match Modifiers or Phrase matches.

  • Expand your keyword footprint

Lots of volume is expected to be lost if your ad moves to the bottom of the page. You can make up for the loss of volume by expanding your keyword pool. But remember, you have to be very selective and granular about the keywords you expand into to make sure they offer the highest performance potential and justify the higher CPCs it will take to get to the top of the page.

  • Use bid modifiers intelligently and extensively

One way to afford higher CPCs for top of page placement is to use bid modifiers to bid your ad position up for certain audience groups that have historically converted better or have a higher lifetime value. Make sure you understand the types of audience that click on your ads and their value to your business.  Use bid modifiers intelligently to increase (or decrease) your ad position for them.

  • Understand organic and paid synergies

Understanding your organic rankings for keywords and how your organic ranking and competitor rankings impacts the performance of your paid ad is another strategy worth exploring to increase the efficacy of your search marketing efforts.

We’ll be releasing additional thoughts and research as more data becomes available and we are able to quantify the impact of this change more accurately. In the meantime, to learn how cClearly technology can help you deal with these changes, contact us at .

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