3 Weeks After Google Wipe Out Right Hand Ads – The Results Are In

By Charlie Carroll, March 22nd 2016 in Ad copy

So, I’m sure you’ve all by now heard and seen that Google removed the right hand side ads and of course read our article about it (If you haven’t shame on you and read it here.).

Well what does it actually mean for most advertisers? We have looked through hundreds of accounts and mashed the data to see what is what.

The answer is a real mix of conclusions, some of which you would not of expected at all!

So before we go through the findings, a quick recap of the effects of the change:

There are now 7 ad slots instead of 11.

This means:

  • Less competitors on the page.
  • Increased barrier to entry – protecting established advertisers.
  • Smaller advertisers in some cases disappearing due to low ad rank.
  • Testing and delving into new areas becomes more expensive.

4 ads instead of 3 now appear at the top of the page.

This means:

  • An additional advert now has access to sitelinks, callouts and other ad extensions to help improve their CTR.
  • Established top 3 advertisers now need to be more intelligent with their ad space.
  • Entry of the 4th spot only pushes SEO listings further down. With localised searches producing maps and business listings, organic links moved even lower.

Having access from hundreds of customers, from a huge variety of sectors, we have been able to aggregate the data comparing 3 weeks after the change, to the 3 weeks before. Obviously the change will impact businesses depending on their average position so we have broken this down to positions 1-2, 2-3, 3-4 and 4th and below. The results are as follows:

For Positions 1-2 No Major Change

So far there is no considerable effects we can pinpoint. Slight fluctuations across most stats are of course expected when dealing with any Adwords comparisons. Slight rises in CPC’s by 2p or 2.3% have been noted causing CPA’s to rise nearly 5%. Whilst this does seem small, if the click price has risen, even by 2p, that’s a huge increase in revenue to Google on a global scale.

For SME’s in this case study so so far there is no major impact on any advertisers positioned 1-2nd position.

For Positions 2-3 CPC has dropped


Looking at position 2-3, again there are no real stand out fluctuations. Any advertiser sitting between 1-3rd should now be a little more relaxed and see there is no need to press the panic button.

If you have strong history and maintained a healthy position in this space then the only impact thus far is an actual drop in CPC’s by 3p. Conversion rates have slightly fallen and the positions have dropped by a 0.1 but again no major changes.

For Positions 3-4 CPC’s up 11%

However once we reach the 3rd & 4th spots, we can start to actually record some tangible changes as the effects are far more evident.

CPC’s rise a huge 11% and clicks for ads decrease nearly 14%. Now if these figures represent your top ‘bread and butter’ keywords generating a significant chunk of your conversions, we have a serious problem.

Ads will now be floating in and out of the top 4. Conversion rates have slightly risen, probably due to better messaging with the increased impact of callouts, sitelinks and extensions, but actual conversion numbers are down 11%. If you are in this position, it’s likely you need to have a careful look at your strategy and considering boosting the bids and budget allocation for top converting terms. Even if it is at the expense of others.

For positions 4 and below show improved conversions but less searches.

Now, the most surprising results of the investigation! At first sight the results look completely damaging, catastrophic even! If your ad is below position 4 you are off the top of the page and dumped to the bottom. An incredible 50% of your impressions are now gone. 43% of your visitors have disappeared. Surely no business can run like that?

Well, campaigns hit in this way also saw a 39% uplift in conversions and a 65% decrease in CPA’s! That’s a massive improvement on ROI.

  • Perhaps searchers now no longer see ads at the bottom as less reputable sellers/providers?
  • Searchers may also be far more willing to shop around and scroll down and view all options?
  • Unfortunately nobody can categorically confirm any reason as to why this may be but what is certain is that advertisers should not panic!

At each position, moving ads from the right hand side clearly shows both positive and negative outcomes.

In our opinion the opening of opportunities far exceeds the fear of damaging results. Of course if you’ve based your business on the low hanging fruit of positioning yourself in the less coveted positions along the right hand side that’s a different matter, but even then there are fixes for that…..

In any case, all activity should be focused on making full use of all the extensions available as we first predicted months ago, having a clear strategy on what to bid in top 4 positions, and what terms you can afford to show less for in the bottom results.

Charlie Carroll

Search Director - Push

Charlie is our results focussed Customer Relationship Director. He loves data and has over 10 years of experience managing all aspects of PPC. He runs our PPC team and his passion is ensuring our customers have long term relationships with Push. Likes extremely spicy food and is constantly eating.

More blog posts by Charlie Carroll



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March 30th 2016

[…] research conclusions are echoed across the web by other PPC journals such as PPCAdvisor and Merkle […]



Graham Brooks
March 24th 2016

So it's swings and round-abouts, so glad we are with PUSH, who really knows the 'playground', thanks Charlie