Google removes side rail text ads: competition gets fiercer for top positions.

The current discussion suggests that top ad results see more impressions. We can second that with our own data using an advertiser sample from DE. The roll-out is gradual and leads to higher impressions on top position. We have added a further dimension: we split generic queries vs. designer queries.

For generic queries, we see a stronger effect; designer queries are less touched because ad density has naturally been lower.

Aggregated result: Now 36% of impressions are “top impressions” for designers.

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Gradual roll-out:Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 16.45.30

For our set of advertisers, higher conversion rate on designers also lead to that behaviour. A conclusion is that advertisers who could afford top positions in the past, will be less affected right now.

All in all, the effects are less strong as you could expect because the large share of clicks was already generated by the top positions with 76% or 78% respectively. CTR has been too low on the results below the fold:

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In contrast to other evaluations we see CPCs already increasing slightly for top positions:

Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 16.45.59

The current effect on CPC is yet moderate. It will depend on the reaction of advertisers. We see that on average, ad density depth is only down by 0.5 advertisers per result page.

If Google is able to fill the space with more shopping inventory to counter that loss, overall CPCs (text ads and shopping combined) will be stable.

With these changes, however slight, advertisers need to monitor their PPC tools more than ever. Building high quality campaigns with relevant ads and landing pages to keep quality score high and CPC’s low. Bid management systems like camato for search ads do a great job of this. 

Creating optimised, relevant ads, camato is able to maintain high quality scores and top positions. 

The camato search bidding algorithm is built to be stable in this new environment: 

    • It does not depend on position but takes into account traffic levels and ROI to changes bids
    • It aggregates data to estimate long tail keyword performance, making it robust against the sparsity problem, which will be even bigger with less positions

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Johannes Tarnow

Johannes is an online marketing enthusiast with strong analytical skills. He has built and led teams with over 30 PPC experts managing 7 digit monthly budgets. Today, he advises Europe's largest retailers on online marketing strategy.