Google ad changes hurt organic search

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February 3, 2017 by Paul Dughi

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When Google announced expanding text ads in April allowing publishers more characters to use in text ads, it claimed it could lead to up to a 20% increase in CTR (click-through-rates) for advertisers.  So how did it do?

Expanded Text Ads have yet to clearly outperform older text ads, Merkle reports in its Q4 2016 Digital marketing Report, and they are not expected to have meaningful impacts on performance once they become the only available format for new text ads at the end of January 2017.

In fact, the expanded text ads that appeared above the organic search results actually decreased CTR from 4th quarter of the previous year.  The ones at the bottom of the page increased, but that’s a much smaller number of clicks.

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Google made a number of changes last year to its search formats, including eliminating the right rail and tinkering with the number of paid search items that appeared at the top and bottom of the results page.  The increase in ad growth, however, has harmed organic search, the report says.

Changes hurt organic search

Overall visits from organic search fell 7% during 2016.

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One thing that made a significant increase in clicks was adding local search ads for Google Maps.  Get Location Details clicks rose 4.2% in December in year-over-year comparisons.

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You can download the full report here, including info on:

  • Google’s efforts to monetize local searches through Google Maps ads
  • Strong Facebook spend growth buoyed by mobile spend share that far eclipses that of paid search
  • Changes to Google device bidding which resulted in a resurgence of desktop ad spend growth
  • The rebound of organic search visit growth on phones in the back half of 2016
  • Amazon’s emergence as a Google Shopping advertiser

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