On November 2, 2011, AdWords announced that “ads that have previously shown to the side of the [search] results may in some cases appear below them.” When and why will the move to the bottom of the page be triggered? Google only says that they “dynamically optimize each page…to provide the best experience for our users.”
Here’s an example of what the new ad placements will look like:
- This appears to be in line with what some have called the “tabletification” of Google; Google making everything as simple and clean as works best on mobile interfaces.
- Most strikingly, it appears that when this occurs there will be a lot fewer ads on the page. Conventional “top and side” SERP’s have shown up to 11 ads per page. Assuming three ads at the top, the example page shown above would bring that down to five.
- The bottom ads appear to be given the top-of-page treatment (sort of): they run the width of the page and are in a shaded box. However, at least in the examples shown, they do not appear to have the top-of-page feature of moving the first body line up to the headline if it is a complete sentence.
- Google said they instituted this change after extensive testing, and that the bottom ads actually performed better than side ads in terms of click-through rates.
- How can that be? Google says ads at the bottom fit better “into the user’s flow as they scan the page from top to bottom.” This also fits with research that seems to show that “below the fold” as a no-go zone is a myth.
- I don’t view fewer ads on the page as a bad thing. Fewer ads mean more chances that the ads showing will be seen and read. When you consider the data that side ads below the top few get very few clicks, you really aren’t missing much by not having the ninth ad on the page anymore.