Google Bottom Ad Placements Eroding CTR

By Jeff Allen | @JeffAllenUT | President at Hanapin Marketing

I wrote a post last week about the new Google ad placements. It took a while for me to spot an instance of an ad at the bottom of search results, but I finally did. And when I did, it concerned me.

What I saw wasn’t cases of the top placements being full and what would be on the side being at the bottom. The only instances I saw of bottom ads were where sponsored links could only be seen at the bottom of the page.

Here’s what the bottom ad for “Canadian Club Soda” looked like for me:

Google Bottom Ad Placements

Based on about 50 queries, what appears to be happening to me is, low competition queries are showing ads in the new placement and high competition queries appear in the old, top/side format.

Google’s revenue is tied to me getting clicks, so I always start by thinking they know something (maybe a lot) that I don’t. So I pulled some stats by using the “Top Vs Other” segment on the campaign tab. Here’s what I saw for one account:

The 3-days prior to the ad placement change:

Google Search CTR = .3

The 3-days since the ad placement change:

Google Search CTR = .23

That represents a 23% decrease in CTR! (Granted the sample here is small, but it’s what we have.)

More than one account has seen similar issues since the change. One account’s CTR is down by nearly 50%. In Google’s defense, their changes often have a short-term adverse effect but eventually pay off. And cutting CTR will kill their revenue so I am hoping that’s what will happen with this placement change.

What are you guys seeing? Any change for better or worse? Is this a short-term bump?

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