The Impact of the Desktop SERP Change

02.19.16 | By Shreya Kushari —

Today Google started testing a dramatic shift in the way desktop ads are served — no right rail ads and a maximum of 4 ads above the organic listings (and possibly 3 at the bottom). We are still awaiting news on the longevity of this change but based on our research, it is being tested by IP and not verticals.

[caption id=”attachment_1133" align=”alignnone” width=”293"]

Traditional Desktop SERP

Traditional Desktop SERP[/caption]

[caption id=”attachment_1134" align=”alignnone” width=”299"]

“New” Desktop SERP

“New” Desktop SERP[/caption]

Immediate Impact

- Increased competition to be placed at the coveted “above–the-line” placements. We can expect aggressive bidding; resulting in increased CPCs. This will be especially true for high-demand generic keywords.

- Long-tail terms will also see increased bidding as the portfolio will begin to leverage these more to help balance out the short-tail’s aggressive bids.

- The Organic / Paid Search complimentary role becomes even more critical as the organic listings get pushed to down the fold. This is impactful for both branded and generic keywords.

Long-term vision

Google continues to surge ahead in its Mobile-first approach. With Enhanced campaigns, they pushed this from a bidding and placement perspective. Now, with this change, they are replicating the user experience on desktop and mobile. By ridding the right rail of ads they are acknowledging the mobile experience as the future and will continue to push this.

The relationship between dynamic content and organic placement becomes more important than ever before. Without a placement in the “above-the-line” space, organic listings have to work hard to engage with the user by creating relevant engaging content that can trump the user experience of a paid ad. Looking at Search in a silo is going to be disastrous for Brands.

Google is at the frontier of understanding and defining user engagement. This is yet another sign of how they are always testing their platforms and pushing the user behavior experience.

We, at DigitasLBi are excited to take this challenge on and change our strategy!

Shreya Kushari is SVP, Search Marketing & Performance Media

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