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Google Eliminates Sidebar Ads…What’s Next For PPC Advertising?

Google’s PPC update: Evolutionary? Or a stumbling block…

It’s a topic on the lips of digital marketers at the moment: Google has removed the sidebar placement for PPC ads on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Instead, the ad slots that appear at the top of the SERP have been allocated a new slot, while the ads that appear beneath the search results are to remain unchanged.
Now that’s all well and good, but as a PPC advertiser, what does this change
really mean?  

New SERP Without Sidebar

Google’s search results can now feature four ads at the top of the SERP, while the sidebar ads are gone.

Some digital marketers are quick to jump to the conclusion that the removal of the side bar ads will automatically translate into higher CPCs as advertisers face greater competition for the top spots. Other advertisers fear they will see a decline in clicks on their ads, as removing the sidebar ads reduces the opportunities to win clicks from users.

But WordStream provides an interesting perspective on this…

According to figures collated by WordStream from January 2016, the percentage of clicks that side bar ads were receiving were significantly lower in volume (14.6% of clicks) than ads at the top of the SERP (85.4%). This would appear to be a natural conclusion, as many users will intentionally ignore the ads on the side as not relevant to their searches. But if we take into account the lower volume of sidebar clicks in January, the addition of a fourth slot above the organic search results should more than compensate the potential drop in clicks that PPC advertisers may expect to see.

So what about CPCs?

In advertising, advertisers want to see a positive Return On Investment. More bang for their buck. Increasing CPCs will eat away at this bang, making many advertisers nervous about Google’s latest update. While it is true that for highly commercial search terms (think mega-volume search strings such as ‘hotels in New York’), CPCs may be greatly affected with this roll out.

The fear is that advertisers who would previously fare quite well with the lower CPCs that came with the lower position offered by the side bar ads will feel the pinch with this new change, and potentially seek to abandon (or at the very least reduce) their PPC presence entirely.  But the more concise, highly targeted long string keywords are less likely to be as impacted as the more generic commercial terms. What this means for many advertisers, in particular those who are bidding within a niche market, is that CPC may not change dramatically whatsoever.  

The PPC landscape is dynamic and ever evolving. The achilles heel of digital marketing is finding one strategy and applying this strategy across the board without any room for adjustment. At HorseflyGroup, we understand the importance of staying up to date with PPC updates, and in particular how these changes will impact our client’s advertising goals. It’s not only about dealing with any changes that come into play today, it’s anticipating what changes we may see tomorrow, and adapting our strategies accordingly.

With PPC, it’s a sink or swim environment. We are the fins that accelerate your results, get in touch to learn more today!

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