Google Says Goodbye to its Right Hand Side Ads!

Dominic Corr
Mar 04, 2016
Paid Media

Google Renoves Right Hand Side PPC Ads

You may have already noticed, but in case you haven’t, Google have chosen to put another spanner in the works and cause a bit of a panic within the Paid Search industry – by removing search ads from the right hand side of SERPs!

Now this isn’t the first time Google has thrown a curve ball like this before. In recent years, Google brought “Enhanced Campaigns” & even more recently, introduced “Upgraded URLs” – basically to keep everyone on their toes and ultimately keep everyone guessing!


So what’s the deal with their latest move?

Typically, and the way it has been for years is, that you would find up to 10 PPC ads on the SERP with the top three ads in positions 1 – 3 at the top of the page above the Organic listings. These ads would be visible with a small yellow “ad” logo. After that, you would find Google Shopping Ads either just below the top 3 PPC ads or to the right (dependant on the search term). And finally, in the top right hand corner you would find ads 4 – 10 and Google shopping (PLAs).

However, as of February 19th 2016, this all changed.

Google now offers 4 Ads at the top of the page on search terms deemed to have “high commercial intent” – Woooooo for PPC (more “real estate”, not so good for “SEO’ers” who are now pushed even further down the page now).

Ads 5 – 7 can now be found at the very bottom of the page. That’s right, all the way at the bottom, below all of the 10 organic listings – the bottom of the bottom! Whilst positions 8 – 10 have been removed completely.


So why has Google changed your ad layout?

The idea of this change is to mirror the Mobile experience; something that we all know is becoming the forefront device of marketing with everyone being on the move!


But is it a good move?

Technically it’s both. It just depends who it concerns.

Yes – For Google, they believe that positions 5 and below didn’t actually provide the user enough of an experience anyway so the removal is justified. For the user, it could heighten the importance of Product Listing Ads as this now has a more prominent location, becoming even more of an essential part of your strategy?

No – For Google, the potential lost revenue could see them resort back to the original layout. For the user, the importance of being in positions 1-4 has effectively become even more crucial, meaning that we, as advertisers, could be facing even more of a bidding war as the importance of achieving top positions becomes even more pivotal to gaining those all important visits.



Since this update, internal studies using our client accounts have shown that the majority of our clients’ high volume terms haven’t really had their CPCs too heavily affected by the “death of the sidebar ads”.

But, don’t forget it’s still early days. To give a conclusive insight as to whether this move from Google increased average CPC’s across the board, we will need more data. After all, it’s only been a few weeks.

So what does this mean for me as an advertiser?

Small to Medium Businesses – typically this sized business, particularly on generic terms, would find themselves in positions 4-8 due to budget and profitability limitations.

Moving forward, strategies will need to be adjusted; the use of RLSAs, Remarketing and Bid Adjustments will become pivotal in ensuring that maximum return on investment is achieved as effectively as possible.

Large Businesses – initially we expect that you won’t notice too much change in performance of your paid search campaigns. However, remember to keep on your toes, as advertisers will become wiser and much quicker from conducting A/B testing and insights.

As always, the world of PPC can be a mind-boggling place, so please get in touch – we’d love to discuss how we could support you and drive you forward! Or even just offer our advice J

Take care and catch up soon guys,


This post was compiled by:

Dominic heads up our Paid Media team here at iThinkMedia. He boasts over 6 years of digital knowledge and has a wealth of experience spanning across industries including; automotive, healthcare, fashion, events, travel & more. With an exceptional eye for detail and understanding of his audience, Dominic has helped a spectrum of businesses to identify fantastic opportunities within densely populated marketplaces to ensure that all of his clients, both well renowned and small, excel within their sector.


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