Are Google’s Recent Ad Changes Affecting Your Business?

What changed?

Google has gotten rid of those right rail ads and now allows for four ads rather than three in the top of the search results page. Just look at all that space left open when you search on a laptop for “new york city hotel.”

Why kill off the right rail?

The reasoning behind this big change according to a rep from Google is to create a more consistent user experience across mobile, tablet, and desktop. Mobile has never had a right rail area, and it’s where the majority of searches are happening these days. It makes sense then to optimize for this device. The effectiveness of those right rail ads has also been debatable. They tend to get fewer attention and clicks than the ones prominently placed at the top.

Google’s goal is to achieve a more consistent user experience across platforms — something all businesses should be looking to do these days.

Of course, when you get down to brass tacks, this is really a business decision for Google meant to better serve them in the future. But what does it mean for your business?

Top 3 Potential Effects

Google doesn’t think marketers should panic, and that the changes won’t be earth shattering. But there are a few important factors that could impact your marketing efforts.

1. Fewer Ads Up for Bid

Without the right rail ads, it’s been speculated that pricing for those top spots will become exceedingly expensive. This could give big players with deeper pockets an edge over small and mid-size businesses. Google claims they’ve done plenty of testing and that this won’t be the case, but it’s worth keeping an eye on.

2. Organic Search Results are Pushed Down

Now that there is an additional ad allowed at the top of the page, the organic results have been pushed down and may be less visible to users. This is concerning for all marketers who rely on organic search to drive clicks. Even if your web page comes up organically as one of the top results, users might miss it if they don’t scroll down — and we know how lazy users can be about scrolling.

3. Search Ads Look More “Native”

Another change is that search ads look more like the search results below. Users who already have trouble discerning what’s an ad and what’s not are probably having an even harder time figuring this out. Obviously, this could be good for marketers who have those top spots.

The big takeaway is to keep a close watch on how your search program is doing in the upcoming months. When changes like these happen, it’s also a good reminder that you need to take a step back and evaluate your overall marketing strategy from time to time asking questions like:

  • Are you getting the results you want?
  • Do you have all the right pieces in play?
  • Are you connecting the dots between channels to get the most out of your spend?

It can be tough to answer these questions when you’re too close to your marketing campaigns, if you have multiple teams working siloed from one another, or if you simply don’t have the resources to get it done. Sometimes it’s useful to bring in an outside agency with expertise in digital marketing to gain a fresh perspective. In any case, the time and effort spent will undoubtedly be worthwhile.

Heather Mansfield is a partner at Truth NYC, which is a thoughtful digital strategy and creative design agency that helps clients achieve healthy business growth. Truth NYC has worked with many clients to optimize their search strategies, and would be happy to evaluate your company’s digital efforts to make sure you’re on a successful path.