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The Fall Out: The Impact of Google's Removal of Right Hand Ads

Justin Tadych
by Justin Tadych on Mar 24, 2016 2:44:47 PM

With one fell swoop last month, Google made changes to their search engine results page that meant the death of SEO and increased competition for Online Advertisers using Google AdWords.  Well at least that’s what a bunch of industry publications led their readers to believe.  So what really transpired, how have these changes affected pay per click advertising and how will they affect your Online Marketing program?  The E-Power Marketing team has been paying close attention to what's been going on since these updates, to keep our client programs performing as well, if not better than before. We've put together our analysis of the impact from all. 

What Really Happened?

If you read our weekly online marketing roundup, or any industry news sites, you know that that Google removed Pay Per Click text ads that displayed on the right sidebar, effectively removing four advertising slots.  This left the market to compete for seven instead of eleven paid search advertising positions.  Google now displays up to four ad spots above organic search results and three bottom ad spots.  That’s right, there is one additional paid spot up for grabs at the top of the search results.


The Google layout change only impacts Desktop searches.  Turns out, very few people clicked on the now defunct right sidebar ads. The layout also now mimics what users see on mobile devices, which gives advertisers a more streamlined approach when it comes to optimization and the customer a more user-friendly experience when switching between devices.

What Do These Changes Mean for Pay Per Click Advertising?

There was clamor about rising costs due to fewer ad positions and increased competition.   As E-Power closely monitored client accounts and scoured industry resources, there wasn’t any real data to support this claim.  Impressions were going to drop through the floor and advertisers were going to lose their shirts as potential customers would no longer see their ads.  Internal data did support a drop in impressions, but not for any of the top positions.  Remember, positions 8-11 got hit the hardest from this change.  These positions saw extremely limited action even before Google's recent changes.  If your business was negatively affected by lost ad impressions from positions 8-11, you shouldn’t be shaking your fist at Google for these changes - you should be calling whoever manages your program to ask them why profitable keywords weren’t being served in more prominent positions. 

One important note for E-Commerce businesses and Google Shopping users, Product Listing Ads have not been impacted by this change and will continue to be eligible to appear on the right sidebar. In fact, PLAs have actually gained steam as they have commandeered the right side ad positions.  If E-Commerce is crucial to your business, the increased visibility of Product Listing Ads is a win for you.

What will E-Power’s advertising team be doing differently with the change? 

We will be monitoring client programs and adjusting online strategies accordingly.   We will continue to make sure programs are meeting or exceeding goals by making sure best practices like monitoring and adjusting average positions, clickthrough rates, impression share, ad tests, bid strategies, geotargeting, dayparts, etc.  Whatever best practice will get you above and beyond your goal will be considered. Opportunities with other Online Advertising channels are always being considered.  Remember, Paid Search on Google AdWords isn’t the end all of Online Advertising.  There are still countless opportunities to achieve your goals and reach your target audience outside of AdWords.  So in other words, we won’t be doing anything different, we're continuing to take a hands-on approach to management and optimization of our programs, to generate more leads and sales for our clients.

What Does it Mean for Your Business?

It’s a multi-device world and the emphasis has been shifting from Desktop to Mobile/Tablet for some time and Google’s recent change is a good reflection of this.  Invest some time and money into understanding what mobile currently means to your business and what it could deliver.  Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.  Sure Google AdWords is great for what it is, but it shouldn’t be the only piece of your Online Marketing pie. 

Is SEO Dead?

While SEO results may have gotten bumped further down the page, SEO is far from dead.  From an Online Advertising standpoint, SEO still remains a pillar to success.  Without a technically sound website consistently delivering user- friendly experiences across all devices, advertising programs would suffer immensely.  For further details, stay tuned for Andrea Schultz’s post regarding how Google's SERP changes have made an impact on the SEO world, and what those changes mean for you. 


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Justin Tadych
Written by Justin Tadych
Justin is our Assistant VP, Online Marketing, focusing on online advertising strategies and services. Priding himself on running the most effective and efficient ad programs possible, Justin focuses on maximizing Return On Investment while generating the best possible results for our clients' online advertising programs.

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