Still early days as they (and we) often say, but some data is beginning to emerge which paints an interesting picture of the new Google paid ads landscape.

As you now no doubt know, a few short weeks ago Google changed how it displayed paid ads by removing all paid search ads from the right hand column and replacing these (sometimes) with shopping ads and graphic/info boxes.

Ads now show in the top 3-4 slots above the organics and in the bottom three slots. Based on first reports, position four which originally would have been at the top of the right hand column (not counting shopping ads, maps and other) showed a 15% increase in CTR overall. That’s a big increase but it was position three that appears the winner with overall average CTR for that position doubling post-change versus pre-change.

Biggest losers were positions 8-11 which no longer exist and positions 5-7 who saw their CTR drop by at least 50%. In our opinion running ads in these positions will be a waste of money. Study after study shows that few searchers scroll to the bottom of the page and if nobody scrolls, nobody sees your ad and nobody clicks. You generate impressions but no clicks which drives down your CTR which affects all levels of account performance.

The other clear winner were shopping campaigns which saw a slight but definite increase in CTR.

These changes have also affected organic listing visibility by pushing organics below the fold. This imo increases the importance of PPC marketing and grabbing top of page. No matter how well SEO’ed your website is – as we said for paid ads at positions 5-7 above, if nobody sees your organic listing, nobody is going to click on it.

What does this mean for you?

One report listed these suggestions:

  • More reason to use paid ads (as we already said) – and more reason to use SpeedPPC.
  • PPC may become more expensive for the big terms. If Google is dropping the right hand ads, that’s because it expects it can make up the difference with the top ad slots.
  • SEO becomes even harder for the big competitive terms. Having a website that is a user friendly as it can be and follows all best practices recommended by Google remains a top priority but imo busting butt to get top of organics listing(s) is becoming a huge waste of time and money.
  • Long tail search becomes more important. (SpeedPPC super power hint hint)
  • Conversion matters. If SEO is hard or you have to pay more, then it’s vital to ensure that your landing pages convert. Establishing a target CPA/CPL, average order value and LTV has overnight become incredibly important – too bad so many clients haven’t a clue.
  • Branding and retention becomes more important. If people search for your brand rather than the products you stock the squeeze on organic real estate matters less.
  • If retail – a shopping campaign is even more important.