Google made dramatic changes with their desktop page layout. As of March 2016, the right side ads are all gone.
The ads on the top used to have only 3 ads, now there are 4. The ads at the bottom used to show only 2 ads, now there are 3. Google decided to remove all the ads located on the right panel as a response to the results they got from their eye tracking studies done in 2015. The Golden Triangle Rule is no longer applicable to users. This rule describes the eye movement pattern of users, where the eyes move from left to right, then down the screen. This was replaced by the constant up and down eye movement as a result of excessive mobile device usage. Human eyes are now trained in scrolling up and down the screen.
The research findings also show that less than 15% of Google users click the ads on the right panel. This triggered Google to change its layout and tried to make the experience in desktop similar to that of mobile devices.
In this interview, Google Guru Monte Huebsch also explains how the position of ads are acquired by advertisers and what will be the effect of positioning to the cost of paid ads.
Wayne Bucklar: Monte Huebsch CEO and founder AussieWeb and AussieWeb Conversion, and well-known Google guru, welcome to the program.
Monte Huebsch: Good afternoon Wayne. Good to see you again.
W: Monte I’m curious about some changes that have occurred on the Google screen when I run a search. The Google right hand side Ads seem to have disappeared, what’s going on?
M: Wayne you’re absolutely correct. As of early in the month of March 2016, Google used to have on a desktop search three Ads on the left hand side, one, two, three and then eight Ads down the right hand side. And those as of early March 2016 are gone.
W: So in our graphic we’ve marked the right hand panel for you, what’s appearing in its place? Anything or is it just blank space now?
M: Well first thing is with the reduction or the removal of the right hand Ads, the Ads on the top have grown in number from 3 to 4. And there are also if you scroll on a desktop again, this is all about desktop Wayne, when you scroll down to the bottom of the page there are usually three Ads at the very bottom of the page as well. The right hand side Ads are gone in their entirety and the only time you see Ads on the right hand side, you no longer even see Google my business with maps that’s on the center not on the right. The only time you see right hand Ads or if it’s Google shopping Ad, and again only on desktop.
W: What’s the motivation behind the change Monte? My head is full of both good and bad reasons as why this might have happened, what’s your take on it?
M: It’s clear. Google a $60 Billion a year turn over to company based around 94% of their income coming from Ad revenue, they don’t make any sorts of significant changes without a lot of historic background. It turns out in their analysis and this has been confirmed from Google that the people had clicked on the right hand side Ads, those eight that appeared on the right hand side, were less than 15% of the Ad clicks on the page. So only about 1 in 7 people actually click over on the right hand side.
W: Explain to us the process that people go through to get their Ads on the page to start with for those people whom might have never done it, because I know this is a critical part of what you do.
M: Yup, excellent question Wayne. The short answer is Google conducts an auction, so advertisers are competing by bidding against each other what they’re willing to pay. Although Google being the odd company that they are, doesn’t just take the highest bidding number and put it in position 1 with the second bidder in position 2, position 3, then you’d go to the right hand side 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 down to 11. They actually take another consideration and that’s the clickthrough rate of the Ads. So the copy that is written about that Ad determines if it gets clicked, so if somebody is bidding ¢50 a click and you’re bidding a dollar, if the ¢50 Ad gets click three times, you made Google a dollar and a half, and if the $1 ad gets only clicked once you made google only a dollar, so that actually take the ¢50 Ad and put it above the $1 Ad – the thing called “quality score” that they’re measuring which is a combination of your bid price and the clickthrough rate. So it’s not just bidding, you just can’t bid your way to the top which in fact is what you can do on Bing.
W: Okay. So does getting rid of the right hand side Ads mean that there are less spaces to appear on the front page even if it was only 15% of the total users?
M: Absolutely. But with the addition of the Ads at the bottom, they’ve captured and they’ve swept some of that 15% is now people that are scrolled down to the bottom and literally the most successful bottom Ad of the three is the very, very bottom for somebody who scrolled all the way down to the very bottom and then very few people go page 2 less than 5%, so they made click on the bottom Ad rather than scroll back up. But overall Google’s revenue with the extra fourth ad at the top clearly has not decreased. And Google has to lose that less than half for the population who’s using desktop they’re searching on mobiles.
W: Now that was an extraordinary statistic I just heard slip through there, are you saying that just no one is looking at the second page in search results?
M: Absolutely. It’s less than 5% go to page 2, and less than 1% go to page 3. Google has taught us that the answer is on the first page or to research with more refined in terms if you don’t find what you want.
W: That’s very interesting because I guess even if you’re not an advertiser, if you’re just relying on being listed as a result of the organic content of your website, you’re either page one or you’re nothing based on that statistic.
M: Yup. The words we jokingly say is “Dead bodies are buried on pages two.”
W: Unless until if you’re someone searching for dead bodies and then you’d be on page one, but never mind. Monte is this a naked grab for money by Google or is there some customer service modeling here that’s not obvious to me?
M: Well it’s now it’s been running for more than three weeks and more than anecdotal evidence is now coming back to us that’s showing advertisers particularly those that had always been spending time to be on the top 3 positions and have not seen any substantial increase in their cost now that they’re 4. And Google has explained to us that part of the reason for this was to make the user experience more common to a mobile device, because on these devices which we tend to use if we’re not watching video in portrait mode, people tend to scroll up and down because it’s a long narrow screen and in fact the amount of scrolling occurring on even desktops is increased, so they’re making the experience between mobile devices and desktop devices similar. And of course now on mobile devices which used to have two Ads on the top, there sometimes now a three Ads. So virtually no organic show on the screen unless you scroll.
W: Very interesting. So are we headed to a world where commercially if you want to have people find your business and click on it, you’re going to have to pay?
M: Well organic results are not going away. They’re still there and the day Google stops having quality organic results and they’re just an advertising platform, the company will destroy itself. So they continue to have organic results on both desktops and mobiles. But yes, for those people that click on the top, being in that podium finish which now as gold, silver, bronze and iron, you need to pay if you’re gonna try to capture that environment. It’s worth noting, there was a traditional eye-tracking study that used to be called “The Golden Triangle” – our eyes started on the left and then move to the right, went down the page. It’s been redone in 2015 and it’s not that way anymore because of the experience of doing this on our mobiles our eyes moving up and down, we’ve been trained to look up and down much more than we have up, across, back – that just doesn’t occur anymore, and there’s substantive evidence based research to prove that.
W: So now those right hand Ads have gone and I guess one of the things that I relied on for the right hand Ads was it they were obviously Ads. They weren’t in the organic list of sites. The Ads are now at the top and bottom of the organic search results are identifiable as Ads, that is not the most obvious identifier in the world.
M: No and research tends to indicate that less than 50% of Australians are actually recognize that those first few results are in fact Ads.
W: So Monte the Ads are marked but they’re mark subtlely. Do people use the Ads like their Organic search result or do they avoid them and go to the organic search results or do we just not know?
M: Yup, that’s a great question Wayne. And again there is evidence and data that support that. Not only do 50% of people not know the top 4 now are Ads, if you actually occur on the top page of Google in an Ad and organically, and you’d say well “I’m gonna stop paying and I’m gonna get rid of my Ad,” only 11% of the people shift from the Ad down to the organic and will still click on you. Eighty nine will click on somebody else that’s still on that Ad range at the top, whether it’s ignorance or just not knowing, the transition doesn’t drop back down to the organic. Of course those who do know that they’re Ads many times will scroll down for the organic results regardless of whether there’s three of four Ads because they know they’re not Ads.
W: Well I have been guilty of going the other way and clicking on the Ads deliberately because I know that’s a real company who’s ready invest in their product. It’s not some 13 year old in their bedroom running a website about something they’re passionate about. It is a corporate entity because there’s money being spent on.
M: That’s correct.
W: Now Monte with the right hand side Ads of Google gone, are you expecting further changes or are you waiting in anticipation like the rest of us?
M: (Laugh) Well clearly the only thing that occupies that space is when Google runs their shopping or merchants Ads, which are actually again you pay for somebody when they click on those Ads but they’re less usually a 10th of the cost of an Ad to be on the right hand side and they come from a feed, and when I say from a feed they come from an e-commerce site where you have to be able to buy the product online, you have to have a picture of the product, you have to have the price of the item and then you have to have your URL so they know what website they’re going to. Now those Ads are becoming extremely successful for people that literally have e-commerce site that sell online and have a visual product, but they actually don’t do anything to create the Ad other than provide a feed from their e-commerce system dynamically create that Ad – extremely successful and inexpensive.
W: That’s very interesting. I’m sure there will be lots of e-commerce sites who are interested in that news and we’ll talk about at the future interview.
M: That will be great Wayne, yeah. There’s some good success stories coming out from that.
W: Monte Huebsch CEO and Founder AussieWeb and AussieWeb Conversion, Google guru of renowned, it’s been a pleasure having you here with us once again on the program.
M: Thanks Wayne and it’s I guess a recognition that Google keeps making changes and you gotta keep up on them to know what’s going on.
W: And we rely on you to keep us up to date. Monte Huebsch, thank you very much.
M: Thanks mate.