Google’s Big Desktop Google Ads Update and My Tactic To Stay On Top

In Google Ads by Matt Chiera

You may have noticed during your recent Googling that Google text ads are no longer displaying on the sidebar (also called “right rail”) on desktop computers.

Google recently rolled out a significant Google Ads update with a few key features:

  1. No text ads will be served on the right rail of the search results on desktop.
  2. Google will serve up to four text ads in the area above the organic listings.
  3. Three text ads will show at the bottom of the search engine results page (SERP), under the organic listings.
  4. The total number of text ads that can appear on a SERP will shrink from as many as 11 to a maximum of 7.
  5. Product listing ad blocks and Knowledge Panels (sometimes with ads, as tests continue in these spaces) will show in the right rail on relevant queries.

Marketers are predicting that due to these changes, CPCs (cost-per-click) will increase.

For smaller businesses, this could be bad news. Let’s use a clothing boutique as an example:

Prior to this update, a clothing boutique could compete against larger rivals in the SERP by bidding to place in the sidebar, maybe spot #5 or #6, where their CPCs would not be as expensive as top ad rankings, but where they may still be able to drive a decent CTR (click-through-rate) and conversions by having better ad text, ad extensions etc. than competitors.

Now, with deep-pocketed companies like Old Navy, Nordstrom’s, Macy’s etc. willing to bid more to stay in the top 4 spots on the SERP, it might not be feasible for the boutique clothing store to maintain ROI on their ad spend by competing for those 4 top spots that will no doubt be unyieldingly held by their larger rivals.

See this search query “men’s jeans”:

But alas, I do have a tactic to preserve Google Ads ROI:

As I do more testing and analysis, I’m sure I’ll start to see new tactics that work to preserve Google Ads ROI with the new update, but I do have a trick up my sleeve in the meantime: Remarketing!

Google rather quietly rolled out an update to Google Ads that allows for Search Remarketing. It works like this: you’re able to use your Remarketing lists in Google Ads to make bid adjustments in the SERP for people who have already been to your website.

Basically, you can set your campaigns in Google Ads to bid, say, +100% for someone who has visited your site before. Therefore, you might not be showing your ads on the SERP all the time for new users if competitors are out-bidding you, but you’re more likely to show your ads to people who have been to your site already. People who’ve already shown enough interest in your product or service to visit your website once are much more likely to convert, therefore it may make sense (from a ROI perspective) to bid more aggressively to drive these people to convert. I’ll keep testing away to verify this tactic.


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