Off the Rails! How Will Google’s Removal of Right Rail Ads Affect Marketers?


On Friday, February 19th, Google confirmed they were removing right rail ads. Adotas is pleased to offer a Q&A with Ben Kirshner, CEO at Elite SEM, on how this change is going affect marketers.

Q: Does the removal of the right rail ad by Google create a supply and demand issue for marketers?

A: Yes, it takes away a lot of real estate for text ads. As a result, paid ads on top of the organic search results will become even more important.

Google is moving the first four paid listings to the top of the page, where there used to be only three. I expect a lot of advertisers will make a run for these four spots, because they are far more effective. That could increase pricing dramatically–for a while. Once all clicks are driven to the top ads, CTRs (click through rates) are bound to increase, which will boost overall quality scores and then drive CPC (cost per click) back down. We’ll need to watch this closely to see which way it goes.

Q: Are there more changes to come?

A: I expect Google to move shopping ads into the right-rail space that’s now vacant. That could be very good news for e-commerce advertisers, who typically get a higher return from the right rail. The top gets the most clicks, but they tend to be the impulse of window shoppers, whereas the right rail attracts people who study the fine print to make an informed decision. They make their clicks count. From a conversion standpoint, in terms of ROI, the right rail beats the top for e-commerce shopping ads by more than three to one.

Q: Will this affect organic search traffic as well?

A: No question about it. Taking SEO steps to secure your company’s knowledge graph just became much more important. All user attention to that right-side real estate will now go directly to shopping ads and company knowledge graphs.

Q: How does this affect or relate to mobile?

Advertisers have to keep a sharp eye on mobile pricing to avoid getting caught up in the rush of this announcement. Fluctuations resulting from this change will most likely affect mobile spend and performance – exactly how is yet to be determined.

Q: What practical steps can marketers take to manage the change?

A: You can start by turning off or closely monitoring automated bidding platforms for now. Bid tools will be slow to catch up as their algorithms adjust to a new reality; it’s going to take a while for a new baseline to establish. Until then, fluctuations could really undermine your search performance. Going manual restores strategy to the process.

Q: What do you consider the most important takeaway?

A: Landing Page Experience is now even more essential. If marketers focus on CRO (conversion rate optimization) on their landing pages, they will ensure a positive user experience. This will lead to a higher quality score and lower cost-per-click, so their search campaigns will yield higher returns. Ultimately, that’s what matters.



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