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Google SERP: How the Removal of Sidebar Ads are Impacting Costs

Posted on 5.01.2016

If you have searched for something on Google over the last few months, you may have noticed a change to the layout of the search engine result pages (SERPs) for desktop users; the right-hand side ads are missing.

Like most changes Google makes, some professionals initially panicked, as this change essentially reduces the real estate area for advertisers.

The Retail Insights Team at NetElixir, however, welcomed the change in design with enthusiasm, while still anticipating certain performance signals like cost per click (CPC) inflation for branded terms, overall reduced auction participation and more. To validate its hypotheses, NetElixir carried out a study evaluating the performance impact of this change in layout – collecting data on PC users searching via Google from Jan. 1, 2016 to April 15, 2016 (comprising of 12 million impressions across six verticals in the retail industry). Here are some highlights of its findings:

• The CPC for text ads has not really inflated, however there was a lift in the CPC for product listing ads (PLAs)

• The click-through rate (CTR) for the fourth position text ad have increased substantially, since Google allows four text ads in the top of the SERP now

• The share of traffic from PPC (text ads and PLAs) hasn’t decreased and actually increased marginally

• The session contribution of the organic listings marginally declined, as the organic listings got pushed down with four text ads atop the SERPs

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