Google's Fourth-Position Ad Conversions Highest Since Redesign

A bevy of search agencies have released data showing how Google's decision to reposition paid-search ads continues to drive higher click-through rates and conversions.

Google in February dropped the text ads from the right side of the search results page, adding a fourth paid-search advertisement above the listing of non-paid search results and four below it. Early data suggests the ad appearing in the fourth position has become more valuable than the rest.

Since the change, conversion rates for paid search ads at the top of the page in position one and position two remained stagnant, but the ads in position four and position five rose. The ad in the fourth position spiked at around 7%, according to data from Elite SEM.

"The rise largely offset the increase in cost per clicks, so overall conversion volume rose with the uplift in clicks at around a 5% higher CPA," Aaron Levy, manger of client strategy at Elite SEM, told Search Marketing Daily. "Expect this to normalize after market fluctuations from the change settles, and you can expect a lift in overall conversion volume at a similar price."

The ad in the fourth position continues to see the highest click-through rates (CRTs). It has become a much more valuable position than in Google's prior search query page layout. Levy points to early indicators that have it outperforming position three in CTRs and CPA. "I see it as a new value position for non-brand terms," he said.

It appear that the new fourth spot directly above the non-paid search listings has become much more valuable. They represented 95% of the volume, vs. 92% before the change, while impression volume for keywords in the bottom five positions fell 60%, pre Elite SEM.

CTR rose 17% overall. While fewer people look at the bottom ads, impression volume fell 60%, more are clicking on them, as their CTR nearly doubled. Conversion rates on the bottom rose by 10%.

CPCs fluctuated in the first few weeks of the change, but not in the way most agency executives predicted. CPCs for the top three positions remained stable, with the top spot declining slightly. The new fourth position above the organic listings rose by 22%, while the fifth position -- the top spot in the bottom segment of paid listings -- rose 15%, according to Elite SEM data.

iCrossing also saw strength in the paid-search ad in the fourth position in search query results. "We see a wide variance among advertisers, with some seeing this occur on as few as 8% of fourth ad impressions, and others as high as 32%," according to the report.

For iCrossing's clients, CTRs rose at more than 5% for top ad positions and 10% for product listing ads (PLA), which include an image. The agency saw a negative CTR, declining 8%, for ads in positions five through seven. Ads on the page in positions eight through 10 saw fell 69%, and CTRs fell by 50%.

Kenshoo's data reveals that CTRs rose by one tenth of a percent -- a 7% increase compared with the previous week, which was the biggest difference compared with prior to the change. The first week after the change was rolled out, Kenshoo saw a one-penny, or roughly 1%, decline in CPCs.

Early data from AccuraCast released earlier this month also confirms higher CTRs on paid-search advertisements for nearly all positions after Google eliminated text ads from serving up on the right side of the search results page.

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