Google Right-Side Ads and the End Of The World

Two months ago, Google eliminated right-side ads for good. People screamed that the world was coming to an end and that cost per click would skyrocket. I kept quiet about it, although I had my theories. The only people I discussed it with were my team and my clients.

Here’s how I responded to a client on February 29 (one week into the change):

I don’t think we’re going to see changes like people are predicting. Some experts do think we will see higher CPC, but I’m not convinced. It’s essentially been the same way on mobile for years (no right column) and there are no big differences with mobile CPC. The vast majority of traffic already comes from the top 3 ad positions, so I think by adding a 4th position, and removing the sidebar ads, it will come pretty close to evening things out. I have a couple clients whose ads are usually in low positions, and we haven’t seen a decrease in traffic yet or a need to increase the bids – there is still plenty of traffic coming from the ads on the bottom of the page too.

Now that we’re a couple months in, I’ve decided to make this post, and it will probably be the last time you hear from me on this subject. Right-side ads are gone. It’s the norm now.

Here are some graphs pulled from my AdWords account that show the compiled data for a selection of 65 clients. The red dot indicates the week of February 22, which was the first week of zero right-side ads.

Cost Per Click – No big changes here. Some of the lowest points on this graph happened after the change.


Average Ad Position – Before the change, these accounts were averaging around 1.9 and 2.0. After the change, they are averaging 1.6 and 1.7. You can see this was actually starting to change the week before the change, so there are obviously other factors at play too. Many people thought we would need to increase our CPC in order to maintain the same ad positions, but this has not been the case.


Search Impression Share – Our SIP is clearly higher since the change, so we’re certainly not missing out on any potential traffic.


Click Through Rate – This has been fluctuating a bit more than some of the other data points. Again, there are other factors at play here. On average, however, the CTR is higher after February 22.


Like I said a couple times, there are other factors affecting this data. All I wanted to do with this post is point out that there have not been any catastrophic changes in performance due to the elimination of right-side ads. If anything, my accounts are performing better than before.

I wasn’t worried two months ago, and I’m not worried now. Things change, but there’s always room at the top.

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