Tips and Takeaways

Google Top 4 Paid Search Ad Enhancements

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Revana Digital

Paid Search Team

February 22nd marked the start of a new era in Google paid search, where news quickly spread about the retirement of paid ads on the right hand side of the SERP. Once Revana Digital caught wind of the big news we eagerly awaited the worldwide roll out to see it at scale for ourselves. With the loss of right hand ads comes the addition of a 4th paid search ad up in the top prime real estate. The new look and feel allows desktop search results to look and feel the same as mobile and tablet.


Google has been testing variations of this for some time, but felt comfortable enough to make the move across highly commercial queries starting last Friday. Example terms provided by Google include “hotels in New York City” or “car insurance.” These are terms with high intent to purchase and matter greatly to advertisers.

So what can we expect? Initially, we believe search auctions will heat up as advertisers increase bids to maintain their traffic levels by securing a top 4 spot. This will likely mean higher CPCs. The fear of dropping to one of the 3 paid ads at the bottom of the page is a concern of many but one that will need time to play out for us to know the real results. Google must have factored that the gain is greater by adding a 4th spot up top than it is by losing out on clicks by moving the remaining ads to the bottom of the page.

Prior to this rollout, many of our clients weren’t seeing much of their spend invested in positions 7+. To better understand this, we ran an analysis looking at the past 30 days. What we discovered is that our advertisers saw less than 1% of their AdWords spend go towards positions 7+; for clarity, here’s a breakdown of Revana Digital’s client spend (by position) over the past 30 days:

  • Positions 1-3: 97%
  • Position 4: 2.1%
  • Positions 5-6: 0.82%
  • Positions 7+: 0.11%

The next major concern lies with SEO managers and what little room is left for organic listings. With 4 paid ads, now only one organic listing can be seen above the fold. It seems Google has made it more of a challenge for small advertisers to get noticed in the highly visible positions of the first page. Those advertisers with the big budgets or authority in web rankings will thrive, while all others will have to evolve in their marketing.

Revana Digital’s Approach to managing Client Campaigns

In response to Google’s change, Revana Digital will continue to utilize our deep expertise in analytics to ensure we are efficiently appearing in the top 4 positions in Google’s SERP. From continuing our focus on LTV to fighting the rising CPCs with relevant experiences and a strong quality score, we will help our clients maintain their performance at the same investment level.

Revana Digital’s Data Scientists will work to uncover which CPCs are worth paying for based on the lifetime value of keywords and which are cost-prohibitive. We’ll increase media intelligence by continuing to leverage newly released features, such as Google’s customer match, RLSA, and Demographics for Search. Perhaps most importantly, we will leverage research based intelligence to determine when, and how much to bid, as well as in-channel and cross-fractional attribution. By staying aware of inventory and competitive price advantage, we’ll effectively be able to bid at the right times.


As the marketplace becomes more competitive, we predict there will be heightened importance placed on distinguished creative.

As the marketplace becomes more competitive, we predict there will be heightened importance placed on distinguished creative. We plan to stand out by leveraging our dynamic creative capabilities, highlighting factors consumers care about, and enabling all available extensions within our paid search ads, all of which creates more relevant customer experiences.

Since Revana Digital wasn’t buying the 7+ ad slots, we do not anticipate seeing a direct impact from the removal of this inventory in terms of volume. Where we will be impacted, though, is in the heightened CPCs. As competitors who used to be in slots 4-6 or 5-7 try to “climb the page” in order to be featured above the organic listings, the reduction in inventory is imminent. To counteract this push, Revana Digital will continue to focus on organic optimization and rankings, making the 1+1=3 SERP results even more amplified!


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