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Google’s new 4 Ad format: The actual effects

Google’s new 4 Ad format: The actual effects

When it comes to Google, nothing is constant, except the change itself. Recently, Google decided to eliminate the right side ads completely for desktop Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). It was one of the most controversial change initiated by Google. Many search marketers panicked, many small businesses thought their end was near and people thought the multimillionaire Google was going to swim in million dollars.

There were speculations in the search industry. Questions like how much CPCs would skyrocket, how will this new 4-Ad format will have an effect on the SEO or SEM, became common.

It is been over a month now that the change has been live. Let us see what are the market trends with respect to these changes in the SERP display. The much hullabaloo over the changed ad format has shown completely different results from what was predicted. The world is not ending. The hue and cry of everyone in the search industry were without any reason.

5 data based key takeaways

  1. Desktop ad CPCs are stable: Keep a close eye on the trends of Google  ads. Instead of shooting up the bids, monitor the key terms and adjust them accordingly.
  2. Product Listing Ads (PLAs) are killing it: According to the new data, PLAs are appearing at the top position more frequently than ever before! So if you are an e-commerce advertiser, you should be better taking an advantage of this situation.
  3. 4-ad blocks won’t be seen on every page: As now, 4-ad blocks are not seen at the top of every search engine page but it might change very soon. So keep a close eye on them as they are dynamic in nature.
  4. SEO didn’t face any disaster: When this change was released, it was assumed that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) would be hard hit similar to the times of Panda or Mobilegeddon. However, we are lucky enough that this wasn’t the case. Though there is a slight decrease in CTRs but it is still working good in the Google’s new SERP. Note this: It is always better to club SEO with paid searches for best results.
  5. Right side ads didn’t make a difference anyway: Right side advertisements were not special to anyone at any point in time. But when it was taken away, advertisers soon thought it was a loss. When in reality, they never cared about these right mediocre side ad positions.

We have analyzed the data of Digital Vidya to study the impact due to the changes in Google AdWords. Let us see what are the changing trends with respect to CTR, CPC, Average Positioning, effects on traffic, and impressions.

Click through rates (CTRs) are doing well

It was predictable that getting the 4th place above the organic results would mean more ad clicks. However, the surprise is, the third spot got the biggest push from the new 4-Ad layout format of the desktop SERPs.



Cost per click (CPCs) are stable

If we go by predictions made by the industry, we would have been seeing the costs per click to touch the skies. However, going by the data available, it could be seen that the costs per click there was no change. The cost per click are stable. This is the reason why smart marketers don’t rely on predictions while forming strategies because facts and data tell the actual trend.



Steady traffic

Contradictory to what was assumed, the traffic is steady. It is definitely a good news for PPC marketers. There have been some modest wins too.

Impressions are lower

Before Google rolled out its change, it was possible for searchers to see up to 11 ads per search results page. With the removal of right side ads on desktop, Google users will not see more than seven text ads. This change in the AdWords layout has led to decline of the ad impressions. This loss has mostly affected those who were positioned at number 8 or more.



This chart does show catastrophic changes for those below position 7. However, the change isn’t huge. This is because positions 8-11 made up a mere 0.2 percent of all the total desktop impressions.

Who is the loser according to statistics?

With every change rolled out by Google, there is a winner and a loser. If in this case, winner means steady or more traffic, higher Click Through Rates (CTR), and lower or steady Cost Per Clicks (CPC), then who is the loser here?

Here are some analysis done by us to find out who truly suffered after Google’s new SERP format and removal of right side ads from the desktop searches. The following data studies the struggles of advertisers…

Before the change, if we had an average position of 8 on the desktop. Soon after the new SERP rolled out, they were completely eliminated.

Avg position

Avg position

However, the result gets interesting when we talk about CTR. CTR gets increased. This means there was no huge harm to our advertisements. This means that it is not a big loss. It makes me believe that Google opposed the ‘all winner’ approach.

Don’t believe assumptions if it doesn’t have facts to back them. This is what the result of over-hyped and over-dramatized change as most dangerous change in Google:

  • Metrics of advertisers seem to have mostly balanced out so far.
  • Most of the advertisers are responding well to this SERP layout change.
  • Those at the bottom position that is, from position 8 to position 11 are the losers. But even after that, it is nearly impossible to find examples of advertisers who have been totally destroyed.

At last, it is important to keep in mind that this change is exclusive to the desktop. There was no change in the ad format displayed on mobile. It seems desktop is becoming the focal point for the Google.




The crux is PPC marketers don’t have to be worried. There have been many huge changes through which they have sailed. Google’s new Search Engine Result Page (SERP) might show ground for more new exciting changes in this industry, but the probability of an extreme change in the PPC ad or ads’ CPC inventory overnight is quite low. However, it is true that some advertisers will benefit from these changes and others will not. It is important to focus on the changes that can affect your performance but without panicking.

Share your experience with the Google’s new SERP on the desktop in the comment section below and let us and the community know how is it going with you!

Sakshi is a content marketer during the day and a reader by night. She writes content sprinkled with a twisted imagination. She has done her graduation in psychology from Delhi University and has an insane love for history.

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