Google has started testing some big changes to how AdWords ads show up in the search results.
Google’s trial shows eight ads on the page – four at the top and four below the results – and it’s also showing the top ad twice, once above and once below the search results, both times in top place. That doubles the return for advertisers who have won top billing as they get two bites at the cherry, once when the user sees the above-the-fold ad, and the second time once they’ve scrolled down. In fact it’s even better news than it seems for the top advertiser, since studies have shown that the top ad in the bottom set can do better in terms of clicks than the third or fourth placed ads above the search results.
The double ad shows up even if not all eight ad spots are taken. For instance a page with seven total ads will show four above and three below the search results, with the top ad shown twice.
The announcement doesn’t change anything for businesses which are relying on organic search. Their results will show in the same place that they do already. So you don’t need to adjust your SEO strategy, though you may be sharing the page with more advertising content than you used to.
It is quite a big change to the way the ads display. It’s always been against the rules for an advertiser to show up twice in the same search results. Now, Google’s making it compulsory!
What isn’t clear is how Google plans to charge for the ads. If you’re in the lucky position of having two ads, will you pay less if someone clicks on the below-the-search ad than you will if they click on the above-the-search one? Or will the two ads be charged at the same rate?
Obviously the advantage of double billing is likely to lead to a more aggressive bidding environment for the top spot on AdWords. That could mean you’ll need to rethink your ad budget – what was an adequate marketing spend before might not cut the mustard if Google brings the double-ad into permanent use.
However, right now this is just a trial which has been picked up by a few eagle eyed observers. Google hasn’t officially said anything about what’s planned, and it may sink without trace. As always, you have to be on the ball to keep up with the game in online marketing!