Google Paid Search Changes to 4 Ad Format

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Alex Corral
Alex Corral
February 29, 2016
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Noticeable Changes In The Past Week

Google has changed the way that they are serving their paid search ads. Paid search marketers might have noticed at the end of January and the beginning of February that the search results began to look a little different. Google always tests in small batches before they are ready to do a release, and this case was no different. When doing the usual PPC maintenance on some of our accounts, We noticed that there were 4 ads on some searches, while the normal 3 were on others. The 4 ads were on some of the higher traffic locations, so we felt that something was about to happen and just last week it did.

What Has Changed With Paid Search Ads?

Google has displayed their ads above and to the right of organic search results for some time now. This included the most coveted top 3 positions just above the organic searches. On around February 18-23 Google moved to a different ad format. They began to roll out their 4-ad sets and the completely removed the ads on the right side of the page!

There is a lot of speculation as to why this has happened and what it will mean for paid search advertisers. One theory suggests that Google is trying to be more focused on mobile, and since the side ads never showed up on mobile, this makes for a more consistent user experience. Another reason could be, that they are trying to place more of an emphasis on their PLA’s (paid product listings) and their Knowledge Graph. My guess is, that they are trying to squeeze more money out of already competitive industries.

What This Means For You

We can only speculate at this point, but there is one thing that you can be certain of; Since there is going to be less real estate for you to bid on the page, the average CPC is going to go up.

There is going to be more competition vying for a smaller number of spots. This means that you will need to tighten your PPC strategy up a bit, if you haven’t already done so. What might have worked then, might not work now.

Some hotels might need to completely reevaluate their PPC efforts entirely. Since OTA’s have had the budget to spend on the tops spots many hoteliers were fine with their ads showing on the 4-10 spots to the right of organic search results. Things are different now. Don’t get me wrong, you can still be competitive, but you need to ensure that you have a solid strategy in place. Heading in blindly at this juncture could cause you to hemorrhage money.

Are you wondering how this will affect your hotel? Feel free to shoot us an email! If you have any other questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section below.

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