Anyone whose been managing a Google AdWords account for any length of time knows that Google seems to love to change up shake up things – at times it seems just to make sure those of us who manage AdWords accounts are not asleep at the wheel =).

Recently Google announced that they will no longer be showing AdWords ads on the right hand side of its search results pages. One source stated: “Beginning Friday 19 February, ads will now only show ads at the top and bottom of the SERP. Although it may increase the number of ads from three to four if the search query is “highly commercial.”

Read “highly commercial” as highly profitable for Google ie high ticket items like insurance and legal.

In my own admittedly limited testing I still see ads in the right column especially if I am searching for a “retail” item. So when I searched on “buy cat toys” and “buy baby clothes” I saw ads at the top and in the right hand column as well as shopping ads.

When I tested “Ford cars” I was given a carousel of various Ford models, three Ford ads at the top and a big Knowledge Graph Box. However when I tested “Buy Ford Car” I got three ads above the organics and eight ads in the right column.

So does this mean that what appears in the right column depends on the type of search term is used? Or is this just in the process of rolling out and we are seeing a “soft” migration from the SERP page we are use to seeing to the new “fewer ads” SERP page?

So why is Google doing this? Another source states ““Google has determined the average click-through-rate for Right Hand Side Ads is poor across verticals, and the expected CPC inflation from this major change is projected to more profitable in the long run.”

What does this mean for PPC advertising? Obviously less ad space + more competitors = higher click costs. If you have 10 companies competing for these three (sometimes four) slots – lets assume that a couple/few don’t make the cut due to low quality scores, poor ad relevancy and landing page experience, and low bids and/or low budget. Then let’s assume that those that remain all have good to great quality scores, strong levels of relevancy, easy to use websites with landing pages that meet the expectations of the searchers….all things being equal its going to come down to who can bid the highest. Which in most cases is going to be the big companies with the deep pockets.

It thus becomes even more important for your campaigns to be a relevant as possible which as you know is one of SpeedPPC’s key superpowers.

So now that you are awake – looks like 2016 is going to be a very interesting year.

Addenda: 02/24/2016: Really good article and some great comments over at Search Engine Watch.