Google’s New Ads 4-Pack

March 10, 2016 / Digital Marketing

It happened this weekend… after 16 years of having sidebar advertising, Google removed all PPC ads from the right –hand side of the search engine results page (SERP). This is going to have a HUGE impact on both PPC marketing AND organic search as now only four top-of-the-page-paid-ads will be visible above the fold, while organic listings will be pushed even further off the first SERP.

Take a look at this example to see the new 4-Pack and the disappearance of the sidebar ads.

As you also may have noticed, there are NO organic ads visible above-the-fold.  This is a radical change that will require all businesses to re-address their digital marketing strategy. According to a recent CPC Strategy article, “It’s going to potentially start costing a lot more to get your text ad to show, so smaller companies are going to be squeezed out… to compete with companies with bigger ad budgets.”

As we all know, Google derives its revenues not from providing organic search listings, but from serving advertisements to its users and by collecting data about those users to ensure its ads are well targeted. This most recent change serves Google and their chief advertisers well, however, there is a lot of speculation about how the change will affect small businesses who use Google’s ad platform to ensure they are visible on the first results page.

The best guess is that competition for the top 4 slots will be fierce, driving up PPC costs and driving down visibility for those advertisers that never offered ‘top price’ Adwords bids.

However, the news may not be so dire:

  • Side Ad and Bottom ads accounted for just 14.6% of total click volume.
  • The change is for desktop only, which accounts for less than half of searches.
  • So we’re talking 14.6%/2 = 7.3% of queries impacted, which isn’t as significant as people were original reported.

Anytime Google makes a significant update, businesses need to adjust how they’re reaching users.  If you’ve been relying on paid search to get in front of your audience, monitor your analytics over the next several months.  If you notice them slipping, you may want to consider shifting more budget towards your bids (which is what Google is betting on) or changing parts of your marketing strategy to expand your social and mobile efforts to offset any negative impact.

Contact Us if you need help fine-tuning your strategy.