In the past, Google’s AdWords display featured up to three ads in the search results page. Now, the company is experimenting with larger blocks of ads. In February, users started noticing that the top block of ads often contained four ads. By the end of February, San Diego AdWords managers observed over 36 percent of search result pages had four ads at the top.
The top ad blocks look the same as before and display the same information. The only change is that users are now more likely to see four ads instead of three, which is common with commercial Google search results. However, users have also noticed the change with other searches.
Additionally, the ads that used to appear on the right-hand column of a search results page have now disappeared. This change occurred at the exact same time as the top ad block change. However, the right-hand column often had up to eight ads, so even with the new AdWords display, the ads on screen have decreased overall.
After the change, a Google spokesperson said, “We’ll continue to make tweaks, but this is designed for highly commercial queries where the layout is able to provide more relevant results for people searching and better performance for advertisers.”
This change may be a part of Google’s attempt to use mobile-first design. The mobile version of the site doesn’t support right-hand column ads, so getting rid of these ads eliminates a big difference between Google on different devices. The increase in top block ads will likely replace the revenue Google loses from eliminating right-hand column ads and allow more space for product listings. There are still Product Listing Ads on the right side of the page, even with four ads in the top ad block.
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