A Google spokesperson has now confirmed that the search engine will be dramatically changing the way that desktop users see ads globally.
As a conclusion to long-running tests that started in 2010, Google will be removing text ads from the right side of its desktop search results almost completely, placing ads only at the top or bottom of the page instead. The massive worldwide update is expected to be completed by 22nd February and will be making desktop search results look a lot more like single column results pages currently seen on mobile.
According to Google, there will only be two exceptions to this change. Product Listing Ad (PLA) boxes and ads in the Knowledge Panel will continue to show as they are.
Google may also show an additional ad above the search results for ‘highly commercial queries’, raising the number from three to four.
Google said: "We’ve been testing this layout for a long time, so some people might see it on a very small number of commercial queries. We’ll continue to make tweaks, but this is designed for highly commercial queries where the layout is able to provide more relevant results for people searching and better performance for advertisers.”
These changes will soon be rolling out to all searches, in every language worldwide, and are likely to affect the importance of diversifying paid search campaigns.
We expect this change to decrease CTR’s on traditional text Ads and increase CTR’s on PLA/Shopping Ads as of a result. We also expect to see increased competition for trophy/top converting terms as there will be less positions available on page 1. This emphasises the importance of having well-structured and optimised Adwords campaigns as the average CPC for more generic, broader terms will also certainly increase if these are also attracting high value “trophy” queries which have not been negative matched as Exact Keywords.
This was an obvious choice for Google after the recent advances in PLA/Shopping Ads which in many cases have a much better performance (and higher cost) than the traditional right hand side Text Ads. We also expect this to be a result of increased mobile phone usage (where no right hand side Ads appear).
We are very excited to see further developments on Google’s PLA/Shopping offering, perhaps they will choose to display additional Shopping Ads down the right hand side of their search engine results in the near future.
This change emphasises the importance of having Google Shopping in place with a perfectly optimised feed and segmented Shopping Campaigns. You can read the below link for further information on how to optimise and segment your Shopping Campaigns in the best possible way below: