Google recently let advertisers know in their official blog that there is a new metric available in Adwords yesterday. It is called “Top vs Side.” The metric allows advertisers to see how an ad performs when it is on top of the organic search results vs on the right hand side of them. It’s really about ad position. An ad on top of the organic search results usually has an ad position of 1, 2, or 3. Ads on the right hand side of the organic search results usually have a position of 4 thru 10.
The Top Ads Always Outperform the Side Ads
I may have stated the obvious here but what exactly do advertisers expect to see? Of course ads on the top will outperform ads on the side – their ad position is lower! Isn’t this why we try to optimize ads for the top three positions in the first place (of course accounting for cost)? While it is interesting to see the disparity between the numbers, it is rather obvious why Google wants these numbers to be seen. Google probably assumes that once advertisers see the gigantic disparity in the numbers that we will increase bids to try to get ads to display in the top performing ad positions. If you don’t believe me, take a look at the three screen shots below taken directly from three different Adwords accounts:
Click Through Rate (CTR)
The greatest disparity is seen in the CTR of the ads, and let’s face it; this is one of our most important performance-related metrics. In all three examples the side ads’ CTRs are less than 1% and the top ads’ CTRs are tremendously higher. If this doesn’t convince an advertiser that ad positions 1, 2, and 3 should be the goal then nothing will. Again though, I would think this is an obvious conclusion that most of us can come to with regards to ad position.
The Top ads have a lower CPC than the side ads. One would think that a higher CPC would generate ads in a higher ad position. This is disproven in these three examples. So to say that this new metric is just to get advertisers to raise their bids is nonsensical. I think this is just an example of ads with higher ad position ultimately having a higher Quality Score/CTR and therefore costing less. If anyone has another explanation, I’m all ears.
Google and the Cost of Doing Business
Although the CPC is lower, the general cost associated with top ads is significantly higher. The totality of top ads cost advertisers much, much more at the end of the month then side ads do. So what is the point of this new metric, to show advertisers that top ads perform better (which should be extremely obvious) or that Google makes a lot more money off top ads from advertisers?