Now the data is in. It’s been over a month since Google removed AdWords ads from the right-hand side of desktop search results. And the impact of that change hasn’t always been as search marketers predicted.
When Google made the change, there was no shortage of opinions on the possible impact. And, depending on who you heard it from, the change would have the devastating effect of a tsunami, or scarcely cause a ripple.
It’s refreshing then to see the candid confessions of those who got some predictions wrong.
Take the team at Philadelphia-based Seer. In a well-constructed analysis of the changes seen for their clients, they got some things right but admit to some surprise results at odds with their expectations.
We’ve reviewed campaigns for several of our clients, and while there’s some consensus with Seer in our findings, there’s small differences from one account to another.
One point of difference, perhaps indicative of a less competitive market, is that when ads are now shown in positions 5-8 we see a drop in clickthrough rate (CTR) for our clients (where Seer reports an increase). With that drop in CTR comes an increase in Cost Per Click (CPC).
So what can we agree has been the effect of the changes? We can’t fault the Search Engine Watch report from Rosetta’s Jason Tabeling, if only because consensus is easier to establish given the limited number of findings.
While results can vary between accounts, this is what the data in aggregate tell us:
Why should you care?
OK, OK, OK.
We’ve got this. Even if the fall in CPCs caught pretty much everyone by surprise.
And, yes, it’s more a storm in a teacup than a tsunami.
Like most people, we thought that (like clickthrough rates) CPCs would also go up. And they have — but only for some ad positions (exactly which varies by account in our analysis).
Clickthrough rates are up as we expected, but drop when ads are in position 5-7 (although, to be fair, the drop is more like sliding down a gentle incline than falling off a cliff).
So, then, the winners:
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Jeremy is a Partner and Senior Consultant at SureFire. Jeremy has been working in search since 1996, when he joined the Australian search engine, LookSmart. After relocating to San Francisco, he was instrumental in the development of the company’s paid search ad platform. At analytics company Coremetrics (now owned by IBM) he established an in-house search agency managing campaigns for Coremetrics clients such as Macy’s, Bass Pro and Lands End. At Acxiom he managed members of the pioneering SEO firm Marketleap and worked with clients such as Capital One, American General Finance and Kaiser Health. Joining SureFire in 2009, he is the head of Paid Search Advertising and oversees the delivery of AdWords and other PPC campaigns. He also helps clients make sense of their website data.