The Death of the Right Hand Rail ad. Don’t Panic!

So there I was two weeks ago doing my normal digital marketing reading when I saw an otherwise nonchalant headline about Google removing ads on the right hand side of 100% of search results.

I’m sorry. What? I immediately freaked out. Wouldn’t this mean fewer ads per page? And wouldn’t this mean more expensive CPCs? What about small advertisers who are trying to compete with the big boys? Would they be priced out? I called another SEM pro and we bantered for half an hour. Finally we decided the best thing to do would was to wait and see if our doom-and-gloom fears were proven correct.

Turns out, there are several reported reasons this is going to benefit advertisers.

  1. This could actually lower your CPCs. Ads in top positions have higher CTRs. Higher CTRs generally mean higher Quality Scores, and higher Quality Scores generally mean lower CPCs.
  2. Ads in top positions (and bottom) are eligible for ad extensions. Since only top and bottom ad positions exist now, all ads are now eligible for ad extensions, which are super valuable ways to increase your exposure.
  3. The 4th ad slot is now also taking the position of the former #1 organic slot. Since many searchers are used to skipping the first three results, being in the 4th position may be a boon!

Looks like this is good news, but what should you do?

  • Don’t panic. So far (according to Google) no aggregate CPC increases have occurred.
  • Monitor all your bids, budgets, and results as before. Only you know what’s best for your business.
  • Make sure all your ads contain ad extensions. Ads that previously didn’t see positions 1-3 are now much more likely to show them.
  • And lastly, continue to bid based on your goals and results – not on changes to the way ads are shown.
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