2016 has seen some of the biggest changes to the PPC marketplace in recent memory. It has been a long time since there has been as major a change to ad format as Expanded Text Ads (ETA). Add on to that the change to SERPs earlier in the year with the removal of right side ads. In this session, we took a look at what effect those changes have had and what is next.
Expanded Text Ads
The jury is out, still. According to an analysis by Merkle, for top of page ads, there has been virtually no difference in performance. For bottom of the page ads have seen a boost to performance, but it is a small segment of all the search ads. In fact, how ETAs are performing relative to standard text ads for accounts falls into a normal distribution curve, so we’re not seeing much of an effect yet. Google has been phasing in these ads slowly, even slower for search partners since their sites may not be equipped to show these ads initially. But from the chatter, it seems like there has been a recent spike in ETAs serving.
Right Side Ads
When the removal of these was first announced, the immediate reaction of many (including us) was that CPC prices could go up as competition increases for top of page ad space. This actually didn’t end up being the case because performance for those ads that were moved improved. The ads moved from the side of the page to the bottom and an extra space at the top got better results, likely because the size of the ads got bigger in this new layout and blended in more with organic results.
Also, Google isn’t just ignoring that large piece of valuable real estate on the side of search results. We’re seeing more product listing/shopping ads (PLAs), as well as ads in the knowledge graph boxes that appear there.
AdWords recently introduced separate bidding for tablets, which used to be bundled with mobile. This is unfortunately coming as tablets are on the decline, due largely to the increase in smartphone size, which are now similar to small tablets. Expect desktop CPCs to go up as tablets are separated out and downbidded as they perform worse for many clients.
Mobile search continues to become more distinct from desktop. Search queries on mobile tend to be hyper-local (near me) and for immediate solutions, whereas desktop is often long-term research. Personal assistants, such as Siri and Cortana, take this into account as well by returning localized results versus more generic items on desktop for the same search query.
New Features Coming Soon
A 4th text ad on mobile search results – this is currently being show for a small percentage of searches, but when it comes out, organic listings will be pushed even further down mobile search results.
More PLAs – including in Yahoo, image search, and other online retailer sites
Bing Ads features to be more like AdWords (which they admit is an effort to get advertisers to use their platform more).
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