In case you missed it, on Friday afternoon, Google shocked everyone in the SEM community by announcing that they would be doing-away with right-rail ads on desktop search results, a change that would roll out over the coming weeks internationally.
Without Google search right-rail ads on desktop—which, by early calculations on just some of my own clients, still accounts for up to 75% of SEM click/conversion volume—a significant premium is going to be placed on appearing in position 1-3 (or 4, as Google has stated it may show up to four ads above organic results for popular commercial searches, such as insurance & hotels).
This means, of course, that those advertisers that were previously averaging in the 4th-7th or 8th position (and seeing positive returns) are likely to test the waters in terms of hiking their bids in the coming weeks in an attempt to be in the top 3 spots—raising not only their CPCs in the process, but potentially, previous top position holders’ as well.
As I manage many SEM accounts for our agency, I put together the following brief video today to explain the Google search right-rail ads elimination, as well as detail why I do not feel that it will have a significant impact on our specific clients. Keep in mind, this is based on our advertisers’ data only, but may apply to some of yours, as well.
While I have several theories on why Google is eliminating ads on the right side of desktop search results (including, to put a larger focus on PLAs, which will still show on the right-hand side of the page; and, as a means to inflate CPCs, which we know have been in decline due to YouTube TrueView)—at this point, anything I have to offer about why Google is pulling the trigger on this change, which the company has been testing since 2010, would be pure speculation. What I can say is that, as someone who has worked in SEM going-on ten years now, I am very interested in seeing kind of impact this will have over the next several months on the most competitive verticals.