Google's New Ad Formats

I’m Kyle Sutton, and this is Capstrat’s The Week That Was.

Recently, Google announced they would no longer show paid search ads on the right hand rail of the search results. Going forward, there will be four ads above the organic results but the right rail is out entirely.  Now this is a big shift from what they’ve done previously – thus far they’ve had search results above the search results as well as above the right hand rail.

So what’s that mean for advertisers? There are four things to understand.

Click prices will increase. With fewer available ad spaces on page one, means the competitive brands will spend big to maintain their prime positioning.

Campaign budgets won’t go as far.  With click prices increasing, advertisers will have to be doing more to maintain a consistent amount of traffic.

Visibility and traffic will decrease for ads below the top four positions. We know very few people click beyond the first page of search results so positions of five or higher will land advertisers on the second page.

Sites with organic rankings of 6 through 10 will see traffic decease.  We know that Google shows about 10 results for most search queries, but given the increased prominence of the paid search results, it further decreases the chances that a user will go far enough to engage with the lower ranking sites.

So, how should advertisers respond from a campaign strategy perspective?

Don’t panic. Jules Winnfield said it best in Pulp Fiction: “Be cool.” When the change was announced, many advertisers reactively increased their bids across the board. This is great for Google’s revenue, but bad for your campaign’s bottom line.

Monitor, measure and optimize. Look closely at your campaign’s conversions, clicks and average position. If the data indicate that a decrease in performance correlates with lost visibility, then increase bids on the keywords that have a track record to justify the investment.

Diversify ad formats. With more competition at the top, advertisers should use every tool at their disposal to stand out from the pack. Consider exploring enhancements like ad extensions which bring a wealth of new features directly to the ad that shorten the users’ path to deeply engaging with your site.

Diversify ad channels. With more competition in traditional paid search, alternative channels are more attractive than ever. Channels like the Google Display Network offer cost-effective options to target qualified users with text and banner ads. E-commerce brands space can use Google Shopping Ads to drive product specific reach.

Re-examine organic visibility. It’s a great time for brands to look more closely at how they’re appearing in the organic search results. This is especially true for brands that spend a bulk of their budgets on paid search. Conduct an organic search audit and address the issues it uncovers. Even brands that don’t have budgets for ongoing SEO can score some quick wins by addressing the low-hanging fruit in their organic strategy.  

Things are changing – be smart, be cool. By making a few strategic shifts you can set your campaign up for success.

I’m Kyle Sutton, and this has been Capstrat’s The Week That Was.