Right Rail Changes – The Short Version

By now, the vast majority of us are well aware (or should be) of Google’s latest announcement regarding the ad layout change on desktop search results. Below is a direct, to the point, consensus of what is changing (and what is not) for the busy, everyday search marketer.

Wait, so what is happening?

Last Friday (2/19/16) Google confirmed that the SERP on desktop will no longer show text ads on the right sidebar. Alternatively, as many as (this being key) four text ads will show above organic listings, three at the bottom.


  • Changes include desktop search results, only, on both Google.com and Search Partners concerning text ads
  • The total number of possible text ads will shift from 11 to 7
    • Key Point: Google has stated that as many as 4 text ads can render for “commercial queries” – meaning, queries that Google believes show a high intent to purchase
  • PLA + Knowledge Panel will show in the right rail with ads on relevant queries
    • E.G. Music
  • Effects on your accounts, to name a few –
    • Impressions
    • CPC
      • CTR
      • Average Position
    • Re-evaluate your bidding strategy and analyze activity between Desktop and Mobile!

Has Google tested this previously?

  • Basically, yes. Here – regarding a smaller set of queries:


  • And here, for a larger set of queries, which gained a little more attention:


Is this already affecting my account?

  • Yep, here’s a quick example I just pulled out of AdWords:

Capture_Right Rail

What will happen to CPCs?

  • It’s too early to tell. Additional impression volume (inventory) @the top of the SERP would mean, in theory, lower CPCs
    • It depends on auction dynamics and how much advertisers are willing to pay for bottom of page vs. right-rail

Take away: watch your bid to position/BTP policies and adjust strategy as you analyze overall volume + cost per click over the coming weeks!


Dustin Lewis About the author
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