What Does The Data Say? Follow Up Blog

Do you remember where you were when Google announced that the sidebar ads were going away?

It sounds funny, but that’s what it felt like when the announcement came out that fateful Friday, February 19th. I remember getting to work on Monday and feeling like there were at least 20 blogs from industry experts, giving their takes on what the impacts would ultimately be to their clients. They were discussing questions like:

  • What impact will this have to my CPCs and spend?
  • Will my Impression Share tank?
  • How does this change the value of certain ad positions in the auction?
  • What is Google going to do with all that space on the right rail?

Our Director of Paid Search, Maddie Cary (@MaddieMarketer), wrote anarticle about a month ago looking at data from the 3 weeks before the change and the 3 weeks after from our top 10 spending clients. We now have a larger sample size so we will look at the 6 weeks before and the 6 weeks after.





Desktop Only / Search Network Only / 1.1.16 – 2.18.16 vs. 2.19.16 – 4.8.16

  • More impressions in Pos 1 – 3.9: We have seen a significant increase in impression share in positions 1 – 3.9. Unsurprisingly, Positions 5 and lower have now fallen below 1%.
  • Status quo for clicks in the top positions: While impression volume has moved between positions, the percentage of clicks remains fairly similar before and after, with around 99% of clicks still taking place on ads in Positions 1 – 3.9
  • Position 4 has become more valuable to our clients, CTR is up by 1% and CPC’s are lower by $1.33.
  • Average CPCs on the rise for lower positions, this doesn’t come as a huge shock though when you consider that there are now less first page ads so the competition to reach the first page is going to be more stiff.


Desktop + tablet cost vs avg pos
Desktop+ Tablet Only / Search Network Only / 1.1.16 – 4.7..16

  • Cost trended up and then leveled back out — We see that in the 3 weeks following the change, the cost trended up slightly but then came back down to more historical levels. Likely a result of advertisers increasing spend to stay in the top spots with the change.
  • Average Position experiencing normal fluctuations. We’re seeing Avg Pos fluctuate in the 1.9-2.3 range, but nothing too crazy going on.


impressions vs ctr

Desktop+ Tablet Only / Search Network Only / 1.1.16 – 4.7.16

  • There haven’t been major changes in impression volume across our top 10 client’s data set. We did see an increase in the month of February into early March before coming back down to “normal” levels (likely a result of seasonality or budgeting changes).
  • CTR remained steady in the weeks leading up to and directly after the change. We have seen a slight decline towards the end of March and beginning of April possibly as a 4th ad more often is shown at top of page on select searches.

desktop cost vs avg pos

Desktop Only / Search Network Only / 1.1.16 – 4.7.16 

mobile cost vs avg pos
Mobile Only / Search Network Only / 1.1.16 – 4.07.16

tablet cost vs avg pos
Tablet Only / Search Network Only / 1.1.16 – 4.7.16

  • Desktop, Mobile, & Tablet are seeing nearly identical trends week over week since the change was made.
  • What’s interesting to see is the change in Average Position across all platforms, it has been trending upwards across all platforms.

Well now what?

Here are a couple of our predictions with what Google will do now:

  • Product Listing Ads (Shopping)
    • A whole new world, a new fantastic point of view! No seriously, look at all that space. This certainly frees up enough room for Google to utilize PLA’s.
    • image 1
  • New ad formats in Knowledge Panel
    • desk 2
  • One-click buy button ad formats
    • image 3
    • Making it even easier for the customer to buy with one-click.
  • Video results
    • image 4
    • It’s not hard to imagine that google would start serving video ads that are centered around search results.

What about you? What kind of changes are you seeing in your accounts after the SERP change? Share in the comments below or reach out to us on Twitter!

(@MattMasonPPC @MaddieMarketer & @point_it)

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