AdWords and Google Search users alike will find themselves affected by Google’s ($GOOGL) latest change to the appearance of search ads.
Google users have seen a number of different versions of the appearance of search ads in the past few years. The most notable change has been the removal of the right sidebar of ads which were removed about this exact time last year.
Now Google has the abbreviation “Adv.” in green letters, surrounded by a green rectangle with a transparent background. The green color of the text in the rectangle also matches the green color of the URL directly below the headline.
Users will remember the previous version as having a yellow box with the abbreviation “Ad” in white letters. Adding this change to the fact that they previously removed the different colored background of the ads section of the page and replaced it with white, making it identical to the organic section; Google is making it harder than ever for users to differentiate between advertisements and organic listings.
This may make life easier for advertisers using Google’s AdWords search ads product, as it will likely improve click-through-rates (CTR), but you have to wonder at what point, if any, Google search users will begin to view Google’s changes as unwelcome.
Google must have research showing the new change improves CTR’s enough to warrant the change for them monetarily, as obviously the more that ads get clicked the more revenue they generate. However, more than that I believe that Google has a grand strategy that goes back a few years.
When you compare Google search ads to the ads that are shown on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, the social networks have had the upper hand with large, attractive images distracting users from tiny notices such as “Sponsored” or “Promoted.”
Ironically, however, CTR’s of Google search ads are on average much higher than those of the display ads on social networks, because of their intent base and high relevance to searchers. Yet, the appearance of the Google search results page seemed stuck in the 2000’s and appeared much more spammy a few years ago.
It would seem now that Google is working through their way of making search ads look in line with other ads that internet users are used to, and don’t seem to mind enough to affect them negatively.
This latest change is just one of many from Google in a strategy of advancing their search ads to a more modern feel, and it’s also their most aggressive yet.
As we monitor their further changes in the future it will be interesting to see the full picture of their ultimate goal.