Two Months Later: The Impact of Google Removing Right Rail Ads on Paid Search Campaigns

May 4, 2016 Team DMS

On February 29, shortly after Google announced the removal of right rail ads, we predicted the impact this change would have on paid search and organic search results. Now, with two months of data under our belts, we took a look at how actual performance matched up to our initial predictions.

We forecasted a slight decline in impressions. And we were right.

As expected, overall impressions for our managed accounts dropped 15% from the January-February period to the March-April period. Although seasonality is a factor, this post-January dip is greater than we have historically seen.

Clicks dipped as well — down 7%. But interestingly, the click-through rate (CTR) was up 8% during the period. Conversions only dipped 2%, and the click-conversion rate actually increased by 6%.

We anticipated rising CPCs, but they’ve been minimal.

From the January-February to the March-April time period, our average cost per click (CPCs) increased only 7%. As a result, our average cost per lead (CPL) was only up 1%While any CPL change can alter overall campaign performance, this shift had a negligible impact.

Despite increased competition, we’re still securing top ad positions. And those top positions are still performing.

The average position of ads showing in “top positions” in Google search has remained consistent at 1.5. The average position of ads showing in “other” positions was 3.5 in January-February. This improved slightly to 3.0 in the March-April period, a result of there being fewer “other” spots available.

During the January-February period, more than 90% of our clicks and conversions from Google search came from ads showing in top positions. This has not changed. We still receive nearly all of our clicks and conversions from ads in these top spots.

Our assessment: no real impact.

Overall, despite some dips in impressions, we have not seen any other significant impacts to our Google paid search campaigns. We’ll continue to keep an eye on performance throughout Q2 and will post again if we see any major changes.

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