Google’s Right Hand Gone – What’s been the impact?

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Google Adwords change 2 weeks on

It’s been quoted as “the biggest change in Adwords since its launch in 2000” – we are now 2 weeks into Google’s monumental rearrangement of the Search Results Pages (SERPs), (if you don’t know about the change read it here), we now have enough traffic and data to have a look at the impact.

 

Search Republic manages around $1.5m in Adwords spend per month targeting not only New Zealand but all corners of the globe – so after two weeks we have a serious set of data to pull insights from. Let’s also remember this is just desktop search we are looking at  – not mobile.

We have looked at Impression Share, Click Through Rates, Cost per Clicks and Average Position as well as movements in the ad space from our competitors. Below is a concise overview of trends and findings two weeks into the new change:

 

Effects to position 1-3

Implications – No Changes to how ads are displayed.

Looking at a range of accounts the general consensus is that ads in position 1-2 have mostly benefited from the changes. Across accounts we have seen a rise in Click Through Rate (CTR) and a decrease in Cost Per Click (CPC) for accounts sitting in these top positions.

The increased top of page real estate appears to have lowered the cost of this space and allowed for increased impression share. An increased CTR of these top spots can be attributed to having less competitors above the fold (top side ads now gone) as well as those in the space benefiting from increased ad real estate (extensions increasing the size of ads, pushing out natural/organic results from above the fold).

Google 2 weeks on top 3 ads

Verdict (a surprising one) – Overall a positive outcome with cheaper CPCs with less competition from lower positioned competitors who before sat above the fold on the right hand side.

 

Effects to position 4

Implications – Ads in position 4 have now been lifted to top of page for competitive terms, giving these ads more viability, a greater presence on the page and the opportunity to display a larger range of ad extensions.

Position 4 ads have generally also benefited from a natural lift in Googles results seeing vastly improved CTR’s and Impression Share. These ads now sit at the top of page and are given more exposure as well as benefiting from the ability to display ad extensions. Over the last 2 weeks we have not seen an increased cost of remaining in this space and there is evidence that some of our ads have been floated to position 3 as competitors are less aggressive to hit the 3 position in order to achieve top of page.

Verdict – Another win. The space has gotten cheaper for ads existing in this position and the jump to position 3 is a lot easier without the need to increase bids too much. More ad space = less competitive.

Effects to position 5-7

Implications – These ads have been removed from the sidebar and now display at the bottom of the page under natural results.

While many of us expected these ads to suffer the most as a result of the change. This doesn’t look to be the case. Looking at accounts with ads in position 5 we have actually seen consistency in average position, CPC’s and even CTR. These ads now sit down in competition with the rats and mice in the ad space (low impression share competitors) but appear to have taken no hits to performance or cost.

HOWEVER, looking at accounts which we have been pushing up, there looks to be quite a price gap between position 5 and 4 now. Ads existing in position 5 have not seen the natural uplift we have seen with higher positioned ads and instead it appears the fight to increase the position of these ads will be more expensive than in the past.

Google 2 weeks on bottom 3

Verdict – it’s easy to remain in these less expensive positions – overall it has not been negative as expected. However it has broadened the competitive gap between position 4-5.

 

Effects on position 8-10

Implications – These ad positions no longer exist.

Need to be in position 7 or above to be in the consideration set.

 

Competitor movement

Overall we have noticed very little competitor movement in the last two weeks. Everyone is at the same stage in looking at the effect this change is having and analysing that data around the effect on performance and return on ad spend in their own areas before making any changes.

 

We expect that in the coming weeks/months we will see competitors getting more creative and active in the ad space. Although we have seen some early movers making tweaks to their bids and positions to see the effect.

Over all, the initial impacts of the change appear to have positively impacted our clients – giving us more impressions, higher CTR’s and lower CPC’s.

 

Who would have thought!

Happy Google Days

Brad has spent many years working on client side, developing digital strategies and managing teams to implement those strategies. He understands the challenges and priorities from an online marketer’s perspective ­ the high targets, tight budgets and the education required to gain internal buy ­in to digital strategies. He also likes riding his Mt bike and telling stories about all the mountains he has climbed before becoming a Dad.

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