Major change is afoot in the world of search: Since last Friday (February 19, 2016) Google has pulled right side ads from search results. Going forward, right side ads will be replaced with 4 paid search results at the top of the page, and 3 at the bottom.
*note that mobile results pages have not been affected
Here’s what it will look like on a few different devices:
The impact of this change will be felt in a number of ways on search engine results pages (SERPs):
Before making any hasty decisions based on this news, you need to take a close look at your account. Will it be affected by this major change in the way search ad inventory is organized?
To assess what the potential impact might be, we would suggest that you do an in-depth analysis of your performance, campaign by campaign.
1- Product Listing Ads – in an eCommerce context
If you have a transactional site, we would highly recommend that you set up a selection of products as quickly as possible, and set up Product Listing Ads. This type of campaign is the only one that will continue to appear on the right side.
SPOILER ALERT: Google is currently testing a new format with 16 products above organic search results!
If your site has hundreds of products (or services), you should also think about Dynamic Search Ads (DSA), which are known to perform incredibly well!
2- Improved audience targeting
Improved audience targeting in search has been the biggest change to SEM in recent years. We’ve seen it in the form of Remarketing Lists For Search Ads (RLSA), and then a few months ago with the introduction of Custom Audiences – the ability to import First Party data to the platform.
Improved audience targeting will soon be a must – instead of bidding to appear in the top 4 results for every query, we’ll focus on queries from the users who interest us the most (programmatic search?!?).
Here are a few types of audience targeting:
3- Types of targeting – Target and Bid and Bid Only
One avenue that’s currently not very well known, but likely to become essential in the coming months, is Remarketing Lists for Search Ads, of the Target and Bid and Bid only varieties.
The Target and Bid type allows you to target a particular audience with specific keywords. For example, say you have an AdWords campaign to promote used cars: you would be going after keywords like “used cars,” but it would be too expensive to appear for every query.
With Target and Bid, you could target only the queries from users who had previously visited your site, or who had already done business with you.
The Bid Only option allows you to geotarget users, in addition to adding an incremental bid for the audience of your choice. So, you might be prepared to bid $3.50 for the term “used car” for user X, but if user X had already visited your site, you might be prepared to pay more to appear in the top 4 results.
Using these methods, you can aim for a far more specific audience, allowing you to increase your conversion rate, and target the users that really matter to you.
4- Longtail keywords
In the interest of keeping your CPC relatively low, and still getting into the top 4 positions, you need to be targeting longtail keywords. To do this, we recommend using tools like keyword.io to evaluate the actual terms people search for, and bid on those keywords. Taking the time to analyze search trends and configure campaigns has become a must! Gone are the days of launching a campaign in less than 10 hours!
5- Bid type – Flexible Bid Strategies (FBS)
Few people use this type of automated bidding, but this could be on the verge of changing with the end of right side ads. FBS are automated bids that offer an alternative to setting a max CPC. For each goal, there is an alternate bidding strategy associated with your needs.
To conclude, there is no question that this new format will have an impact, both on paid search and SEO, and no one can predict exactly what it will be…
Will we be better off switching our search advertising budgets into SEO? Will CPC skyrocket? How will ads at the bottom of the page perform? What about PLAs?