Ads On The Right Side Of Desktop: Initial Update

As we know last week Google stopped showing Adwords ads on the right hand side of the search results page, they started showing 4 ads in the top positions and 3 at the bottom below the SEO listings. This was to align desktop results with mobile, unifying the displays and “supposedly” making a cleaner more useable search experience..

What did we expect to happen?

We suspected that with more positions at the top of the page CTR’s would increase, fewer SEO listings taking up the screen, more PPC ads at the bottom should improve the AdWords CTR’s.

We expected CPC’s to jump as advertisers clambered to get into the top positions, forcing their way back from lost mid range positions.

With increased CPC’s we suspected Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) could increase with higher costs from higher CPC’s and more competition in the top spots.

All this being said no-one could predict what was really going to happen, we tried not to panic and hoped nobody else would either.


We relayed all of this to our clients and asked them to be patient, we would monitor the data in detail and adjust the accounts accordingly (if required..) hopefully there would be little impact as many experts predicted.

So what are the initial results?

We hadn’t noticed any major changes in our clients data, so we decided to amalgamate a large chunk of client data to see if there was an overall increase or decrease on the main KPI’s.

We chose 10 clients all with high levels of traffic, minimal changes in CPC bids and low brand influence. We combined all of their Impression, Click, Cost, CTR, CPC, Position and CPA data for the 6 days before the change and compared that to the 6 days following the change to see if there were any overall changes in those metrics… and here are the results:

  • Click Through Rate (CTR) is up 2.7% – WOW this is major
  • CPC is down 1.6% – WOW again
  • Average Position is up 0.1 – not massive but its still a positive change
  • Cost Per Acquisition is down 6.5% – WOW once more, this is all very positive

Client KPI Change Data

So the main KPI’s, CTR and Average Position are stronger, CPA and CPA are both reduced. GREAT NEWS!

Why do we think this happened?


We know from the historical data that only ~12% of clicks happen on the right side of the page, so losing these ads would only really lose these 12%, adding an extra ad in the 4th position looks to have given us more than the 12% back.

CPC’s are down likely from reduced competition on the top slots, the 4th ad gives advertisers an extra position at the top increasing the range of the auction price, advertisers and ads are settling into 5th, 6th and 7th position and beyond comfortably


The reduced CPC has also reduced the CPA

What are we going to do now?

We will keep monitoring the data, watching every client very carefully, with reduced CPC’s and CPA’s we have a slight opportunity to gain further positions and conversions whilst maintaining the keep CPA target

Keep watching, keep optimising and keep pushing the boundaries.

For more information on how CIRCUS can help please get in touch using the “Talk To Us” link above.

Written by Rick Tobin Managing Director at Circus PPC Agency

Rick Tobin
Managing Director

Over 20 years dedicated PPC experience working with some of the world's biggest brands.

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