Cummings Creative Group

Google Confirms Desktop Searchers Will Only See Four Text Ads


It’s official: Google is switching desktop search results to contain just four paid search text ads, which is down significantly from the current limit of eleven.

Why is Google doing this?

Google says their tests show this provides a better user experience and connects users with the most relevant ads. Ads on the right sidebar have historically seen a lower CTR than ads at the top, which makes sense given eyes are immediately drawn to the top ads, but we’ve seen successful performance from the right sidebar in plenty of cases for clients. However, many advertisers have delivered spammy and low quality ads on the right sidebar as a result of the lower costs, so this change will likely eliminate them from appearing altogether.

What does this mean for you?

Only having four spots means advertisers will need to bid more aggressive to appear on the 1st page, not to mention continue to focus on improving Quality Score. This also makes text ads more valuable since having four ads pushes down the organic listings even further, especially when you take into account how much real estate ad extensions like sitelinks take up.

What can advertisers do to help ensure success?

Here are a few initial recommendations based off what we know so far:

1) Analyzing performance becomes increasingly important, not only how it’s impacted by each ad position but what segmentation can you use to identify strengths. This could mean breaking out a separate campaign for your top performing states to allow more budget and higher ad rank or more extensive day-parting.

2) Many advertisers with tight budgets will cut down their keyword list to just the best of the best as a result of rising CPCs. This could be viewed as putting all their eggs in one basket, but it’s the basket with the best performance history.

3) Goals become more important. A higher cost means a stronger need for understanding what you’re willing to pay based on conversion rates and expected lifetime customer value.

Are there any exceptions?

Yes, Google has said that Google Shopping Ads (PLAs) will continue to appear on the right sidebar, so it’s possible to have four text ads plus PLAs. Google’s Knowledge Panel can also trigger additional ads, which is still relatively limited (this is good for an advertiser like hotels, but not necessarily beneficial for ecommerce sites).

We’ll keep this post updated with any further news from Google.