Will Google’s decision to remove side panel ads drive-up SME’s online advertising spend?

Google has decided to remove the side panel ads on its desktop search results. To Google users this may not seem a ‘big deal’ and could even be viewed as a positive step with less ads cluttering up their screens. However, this could have a detrimental effect to smaller business’s and brands with fewer resources, as it could have a major impact on online marketing and advertising budgets.


The right hand panel Google ads were a great place to advertise for those with a limited budget and well-honed keyword targeting strategies. Bidding for the top slot on Google can be expensive, especially now when there are only four slots available, compared to 10+ as it used to be. The reductions in ads displayed on the search results page will undoubtedly drive-up competition for these spaces, thus increasing the Google AdWords spend for many!

Google have been beta testing this layout for a while, and said the changes are designed to provide more relevant results for people searching and better performance for advertisers. This is the usual statement from Google, putting search relevance as the main driver. Interesting, they still insist in displaying their own Google Shopping Channel Ads in this redundant space! My view would be that Google’s decision to remove these ads is purely a commercial one, especially as the second page of your results appears to becoming a new auction. This again complicates the bidding process and managing AdWords accounts. We haven’t seen much detail on this yet; no doubt savvy advertisers will figure this out, whilst others spend lots of cash to be top of the page!

The increase in space taken by four ads, rather than three before the change in design, may impact on those who rank highly in natural search too. This is due to search results appearing below the fold – this certainly happens if you’re browsing on an average screen resolution laptop. From a users perspective I really think that, in the long-term, Google could be shooting themselves in the foot by pushing natural search results further and further down their results pages. However, with nearly 90% share of UK search traffic, there’s not much you can do, unless consumers start searching elsewhere! It will be interesting to see if Bing follow suit.

I’m off to Duck Duck Go!

Need help optimising your online marketing?

Please call 01242 224360