Ads and Extensions In A Non-Side World

This week James Svoboda (@Realicity) filled in for Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) with a great question set titled “Ads and Extensions In A Non-Side World.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: Now that we have 3 weeks’ worth of actual data, how has the sidebar update truly affected your campaigns?

  • I’ve only seen it impact two of my clients who are smaller and compete with bigger accounts. Both in the tech world too. Negatively. Noticeable bid increases. Some recommended CPCs finally going over $100. – Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
  • I’ve always aimed for top position, so I haven’t noticed much difference if any. – Court Turner (@nikechik)
    • A usual strategy for us as well for important/primary keywords. – James Svoboda
  • I honestly have not seen any dramatic shifts in performance since the change. Maybe I’m not mining the data enough?! – Davis Baker (@davisbaker)
    • Agreed, to me a “dramatic shift” should be noticeable with little-to-no data mining, thus… no “dramatic shift” for me. – Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
    • It can be tough to spot these trends. I have 1 client running sales during this period so data is disrupted. – James Svoboda
  • For a couple smaller accounts that compete with bigger fish, I’ve seen CPC grow steadily to hold position. CTR is fluctuating more. Since this change, I’ve actually seen conversion rates drop a pretty significant amount for some, which I wasn’t directly expecting. Hopefully that’s just a coincidence. – Nate Knox (@nateknox)
  • Higher CPCs for a couple clients. – Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
  • My theory is it’s going to take a major sales period/holiday to see any of the big competitive shifts. – Andrew McCarthy (@AmccartPPC)
  • I haven’t seen a huge difference. Maybe fewer impressions due to some lower position ads falling off the page. – Amy Valleskey (@amy_valleskey)
  • Monitoring and monitoring but just haven’t seen the impact through my accounts yet, honestly. – Colleen McCaskell (@ppccolleen)
  • The only thing I noticed recently is horrendous click-through-rates in Bing Ads w/ the image extension. – Jeremy Krantz (@JeremyKrantz)
    • We wanted to test that ext but ended up reallocating most of budget to Google so didn’t end up doing so. Interesting! – Heidi Smith

Q2: Have you had a campaign be severely and negatively affected by losing side ad placement? If so, how?

  • I had a couple small clients bid to position if 4-5, keeping them at the top of the side bar, which was their best place. Soo, crap. For those sidebar clients, their CPCs are higher and conversion rates much worse. – Nate Knox
    • Now going after pos. 5-6? – James Svoboda
      • Testing it vs the top 4… so far, the top 4 are performing nearly 10x better. – Nate Knox
  • Seasonally many of my clients entered their lower part of the year exactly as this hit too, which adds further analysis difficulty. That being said, it was also a “good” time since it wouldn’t blow up holidays or summer sales. – Kirk Williams
  • I’ve had low search volume keywords appearing even less, even though they’re still highly relevant. – Shaun Causer
  • Besides higher CPCs in some cases I haven’t seen total disaster occur. CR stays the same, just higher CPAs. – Joe Martinez
  • There’s been a slight shift, but nothing negative at the overall account level to be nervous about. – Amy Valleskey
  • I almost immediately discount this tho when a compy puts out researh that says, “our product always wins” in a bullet. – Evan Levy (@EvanLevy)
  • We’ve actually seen increases across the board for 1 of our clients for avg position — some have even gone from 5-6 to 3-4. No noticeable negative performance metrics yet – a few with lower impressions but that could just be seasonal also. – Heidi Smith (@heidinksmith)

Q3: For those running Google Shopping, how did Product Ads moving to the right column impact performance?

3 Google Shopping

  • Our largest Ecom client is in the middle of Spring sales with increased bids & budget so our Shopping data here is not solid. – James Svoboda
  • Almost all of my Shopping campaigns have improved. The YoY numbers for March are noticeably better. More clicks and impressions and seeing a lower CPC all across the board. No major changes made the the campaigns either. CR has maintained or increased so ROI has been noticeably higher. – Joe Martinez
    • Seeing more clicks & impressions from mentioned ecom campaign, but did attribute that to sale bids & budget. – James Svoboda
  • I’ve changed so much in Shopping in so many clients that I’m frankly struggling to find good comparison metrics for this change. – Kirk Williams
    • I’m really intereated to see how this affects volume overall. Maybe more queries in normal search on average. – James Svoboda

Q4: How are you addressing Ad Extension Performance & Strategy now that more Ads Qualify for Them?

4 Ad Extensions

  • Utilizing every extension possible is even more important now, though it seems that expanded sitelinks are decreasing with 4 ads. – Kirk Williams
  • Doesn’t answer the question but do we have definite proof that sitelink descriptions are only for branded searches now? – Joe Martinez
  • Impr. & clicks are up for ad extensions but CTR, avg position & avg CPC are slightly worse. We need more data I think! – Heidi Smith
  • I’m seeing a lot of retailers letting auto-extensions take over. Most agencies don’t seem to think it’s worth the time. Which is a shame, actually taking the time to build out the extensions is incredibly valuable. particularly on mobile. – Andrew McCarthy
    • With all the discussion in past about extensions primarily being about real-estate benefit, this doesn’t surprise me. A lot of the benefit of ext is real-estate, not necessarily precisely what is there (as long as accurate). – Kirk Williams
    • Do you know why they don’t think it is worth the time? Interesting to hear that. – Heidi Smith
      • Tends to be a time/benefit issue for the agency. Small budget = small time commitment, so they’d rather focus on KWs. – Andrew McCarthy
        • That makes sense I suppose, depending on the client’s industry and what their goals are for paid search. – Heidi Smith
          • Yes, and as Andrew mentioned the agency/in-house efficiency as well comes into play. I.e., makes no sense to build out all ad group sitelinks if testing reveals campaign can give results. – Kirk Williams
  • We’re testing messaging in the headline and using extensions for all the fluffy selling points, etc. Relevancy vs this idea. – Nate Knox
  • I always found expanded sitelinks a bit odd. Sounds like a great idea, but rarely every shown. – James Svoboda
  • They increase SERP real estate for an ad SO much that I’m surprised Big G never tried to monetize it. – Kirk Williams
  • Analyzed 6 client’s sitelinks yesterday… 5 of 6 Click & Impression Volume increased pre and most side ads change. 5 of 6 clients Avg. Pos & CTR worse pre to post side ads update. Makes sense with more ads showing Ad Extesnions. Also 4 of 6 clients saw lower Avg CPC for ads with Ad Extension after change. 3 Ad Extensions showing more and more often means we should put more emphesis on using all of them and analyzing results. – James Svoboda
    • Yeah, though them pulling them from most SERPs makes me suspicious they’re killing them eventually. – Kirk Williams
  • Extra effort to get automated extensions (ratings, reviews, etc.) will be more important now. – Joe Martinez
  • Large, extension-heavy ads will draw more ads, but your messaging will matter more and more to make you stand out. – Nate Knox
  • I’ve gone through and made sure everything A) has all available extensions and B) has the most updated and relevant content. – Amy Valleskey

Q5: Has your Ad Writing Strategy changed now that all ads render in the Top/Bottom Format? How?

5 Text Ads

  • Trying to get punctuation in there for long headlines. More important than ever. – Melissa Mackey
    • That was one of the first things I noticed about bottom ads without an extended headline! – James Svoboda
  • I’ve always wrote ads for the extended headline. Testing more CTAs in D1 to compete with other ads using extended headlines. – Joe Martinez
  • Not directly/fully yet. We’re running several tests to drill down. Nothing REAL so far. – Nate Knox
  • Actually in-house here, but we work with a lot of our partners’ agencies who seem to loathe extensions. – Andrew McCarthy
  • Extended Headlines and Ad Extensions show for both Top & Bottom now. More constant this way. Better for optimization. – James Svoboda
  • I’ve noticed that Adwords’ Search Partner Ads typically use sitelinks now which I hadn’t seen much of, if at all, before. – Andrew McGarry (@beyondcontent)
  • Personal view here without any data, but I’ve seen ads using the domain name more in the extended headline instead of D1. – Joe Martinez
    • I think some PPCers took this for granted perviously and didn’t plan for extended headlines. That’ll prob. change. – James Svoboda

Q6: How have Bottom Ads affected your campaigns? Especially now that they show with Ad Extensions?

6 Bottom Ads

  • No details on this, but I’d love to at some point test the new bottom ads vs. TOS page 2. My instincts say page 2 wins. – Andrew McCarry
  • Now that Top & Side/Other/Bottom are very similar, it’ll be easier and more consistent to create & test ads. – James Svoboda

Q7: How do you expect SERPS & Ads to change or evolve now that there are no Side Ads?

  • Google’s going to put SOMETHING in that right rail even on non-shopping queries. They won’t waste the space. – Melissa Mackey
    • Good point. I just though Shopping and Knowladge Graph would be it, but still a ton of queries with white space there. – James Svoboda
      • Yep, most B2B queries have big ol’ white space right now. That won’t continue IMHO. – Melissa Mackey
  • Based on some recent articles and conversations I’ve had, I suspect business cards or knowledge graph will fill the void. – Andrew McCarthy
  • I predict/expect/want a new ad format with a 60 character headline and 70 character description. Why not? 20+ image ad formats. – James Svoboda
  • I bet they continue expanding the Knowledge Graph to cover tons of non-ecommerce queries. – Kirk Williams
  • The SERPs still look so empty on desktop. At least expanded Shopping ads would make sense for now. – Joe Martinez
  • Could we start seeing YouTube videos using some of that space? Either organic or promoted. – Kyle Crocker (@kacrocker)
    • With how much Google has been pushing video the past few years, I wouldn’t be surprised! – Andrew McCarthy
  • I just feel like it’s prime for increased knowledge graphs (with handy ads below, think current Local results). I.e., someone searches “what is SAAS” & side Knowledge Graph appears with 4 ads below “Popular SAAS services” – Kirk Williams
  • Or maybe they’ll come up with a new image ad size that covers the entire white space. No? Bad idea? – Joe Martinez
    • I could see a couple display spots going in there. Maybe not custom size, but display placements. – Kyle Crocker
    • That could work. I’d love it. Danny Sullavin took them to task when they beta’d Brand Header Image ads, so not sure. – James Svoboda
  • Shopping is a big push and there’s plenty of space experiment with GS Ad nows. Can we have a video ad on the SERP? – Scott Wright (@TheScright)
  • Google Shopping may expand to feature hotels, cars and non-retail items in the RHS space. – Colleen McCaskell

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More PPCChats

Don’t forget to stay tuned for the next #PPCchat on Tuesday at 12 noon Eastern, 9 am Pacific and 5pm in the UK. Same Chat time, same Chat channel.


Check out the PPCChat Twitter list to see and connect with all current and prior participants.

• Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
• James Svoboda (@Realicity)
• Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
• Amy Valleskey (@amy_valleskey)
• Andrew McCarthy (@AmccartPPC)
• Andrew McGarry (@beyondcontent)
• Colleen McCaskell (@ppccolleen)
• Court Turner (@nikechik)
• Davis Baker (@davisbaker)
• Evan Levy (@EvanLevy)
• Heidi Smith (@heidinksmith)
• Jeremy Krantz (@JeremyKrantz)
• Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
• Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
• Kyle Crocker (@kacrocker)
• Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
• Nate Knox (@nateknox)
• Scott Wright (@TheScright)

Streamcaps in a Non-Side World

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe; works at WebRanking in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Connect with Paul @PaulKragthorpe, and Google Plus.

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