Google appears to have removed its right hand column of adverts focusing on ads at the top and bottom of the page. This could have some positive results for charities' advertising.

What's changed in google search?

  • There used to be a sidebar of adverts which no longer appear for most searches.
  • There's now an extra ad slot at the top of the results; 4 in total.
  • Plus ad slots at the bottom of the page.

Why has it changed?

Like all good marketeers know, regular testing is critical - it's estimated that Google has more than 100 experiments running at any one time and that this change was first tested two years ago.

The testing must have resulted in positive results and that's precisely why we're seeing this rolled out. One connected reason being the influence of mobile on browsing habits.

What's the impact for charities?

Studies* have shown that search adverts at the top of a page are clicked on average 14 times more often than any in the sidebar. Having a fourth slot now available means there's more openings to appear in these better performing positions.

On the more challenging side - these slots are more competitive and could result in higher cost per click for charities. However, the greater focus this could bring to optimising adwords could be positive. The mantra 'do less better' exists for a reason.

It has also been shown that desktop search advertising had been becoming less effective overall but decreasing the number of ad slots should counteract this. This is positive for charities since there are still good volumes of search traffic coming to charities through desktop searches. Charity website audiences still appear to be hanging onto desktop browsing behaviours more than we see with commercial websites - typically we're still seeing around 50% desktop traffic to many charity websites, higher than seen in some commercial sectors.

* Study by iProspect