Research Shows Google CTRs Rising After Redesign - What About Conversions?

Early data from AccuraCast released this week confirms higher click-through rates on paid-search advertising for nearly all positions after Google eliminated text ads from serving up on the right side of the search results page.

Google stopped serving paid-search text ads down the right rail of its search query results page in late February. A fourth paid-search ad now serves up at the last position at the top of the page.

Following the shift, the CTR for the No. 1 position paid-search ad jumped 8.4% to 4.20%. The CTR for the No. 2 position ad jumped 7.7% to 1.24%. The No. 3 position fell 5.6% to 2.04%, and the No. 4 spot -- which did not exist previously -- jumped 18.2% to 0.81%, according to AccuraCast.

The data for AccuraCast's analysis came from a two-week period, analyzing more than 500,000 individual searches for a range of industries.

Product listing ads are included in the research, but the agency has not looked into how the move influences product listing ads (PLAs) specifically. Marketers will likely see that down the road a bit, explains Luke Rees, digital marketing lead at U.K.-based AccuraCast. The data also does not indicate an increase in conversions from the uptick in clicks. That's great news for Google, but without the conversion it doesn't do much for sales at brands other than branding for future sales. 

Overall, CTR for all ad positions on the first page fell from 1.86% to 1.80% while impressions have remained equal -- around 500,000, according to AccuraCast's data. Outside of position 4, the total of CTRs rose. What once fell into positions five through 10 rose from 2.22% to 2.46%.

Positions five and six fell compared with historic percentages, while the ad in position seven rose.

Rees says the numbers are likely to fluctuate in the coming weeks as the agency sees broader samples of data and as people become more familiar with the new layout. Once the agency starts to get a bigger sample of data, it plans to dig further into product listing ads, as well as differences on desktop and mobile.

2 comments about "Research Shows Google CTRs Rising After Redesign - What About Conversions?".
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  1. Daniel Soschin from Speaker & Blogger, March 3, 2016 at 4:44 p.m.

    With more than 3 billion searches per day on Google alone, 500k seems like a small sample size for a study. It will be interesting to revisit the data once we can analyze a larger set, say a few billion...

  2. John Grono from GAP Research, March 4, 2016 at 6:58 p.m.

    Daniek, I understand what you are saying, but ironically larger sample sizes don't always add a large degree of greater precision (if they do they generallyremove biases).

    What would be interesting is if they split the 500k into two groups of 250k (or five groups of 100k) and repeated (and published the results.  If the CTRs were basically the same if the 'sub-samples' then there really is no evidence that a larger sample of 'a few billion' would provide any greater learnings.   Conversely, if they were all over the place then I am all for your suggestion.

    Also of interest would be a longitudinal analysis repeating the exercise (say monthly) and getting a bead on the trend.

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