Google Reduces Ads from 11 to 7 - Bye Bye Right Hand Side

An important change to Google Adwords rolled out on Friday 19/2/16

Summary

Google is no longer serving ads on the Right Hand Side of the search page. The number of ads on the first page will go from 11 to 7. There will be 4 at the top and 3 below the organic results. 

The updated Google search results page looks like this:

Why Would Google Do This?

Google runs experiments in the background over months or years, assessing their revenue yield from Adwords vs User Experience. It eventually pulls the trigger on some of these when the balance is just right. It also represents a leap forward in their "mobile first" strategy, with the desktop ad experience now falling in line with what mobile has looked like for years.

Impact

- Traffic may increase, especially for those advertisers in higher ranks due to improved CTR.

- A potential Cost per Click increase on generic keywords with high competition, due to advertisers who appeared in positions 5-10 on the Right Hand Side wanting to now appear in positions 1-4 to be visible above the fold. With this change in the last week of February/March we might notice a Cost Per Click increase for all non brand campaigns.

Action

To adapt to the change and use it as an edge over your competitors, you should:

- Closely monitor campaign performance and Cost per Clicks on generic terms to ensure you maintain your return on spend.

- Adjust and review "first page bid estimates", on keyword level bids. 

- Monitor impression share which may drop due to the change.