Have you noticed that Adwords advertisements are now showing up at the bottom of the search results on Google? There is some testing going on right now with Google, but every test has a purpose and gives us some insight to what is going on the giant search engine’s brain.
In this post we will look at what this new ad placement means for search in general and how we can translate what Google is telling us into what they REALLY mean.
First, here is what some of your searches may look like with the ads at he bottom:
Why is Google testing these ads in the first place?
Contrary to what some people believe, Google is not a public service organization. They exist to make money. That is the bottom line. One of the biggest money makers for the company is their Adwords program, where advertisers pay for a link to their websites that shows up in the search results or on other webpages (Gasp! Paid links?…yeah). This way a company that could never rise up in the natural organic listings can have a shot at getting some targeted traffic.
But advertisers will only continue to pay for these ads if they are getting traffic from them, and that traffic is converting. Google strives to create a wonderful user experience for their searchers because they are the backbone behind their business. The more searchers click on ads and buy products from those business the more money Google can pocket.
Ok, but here’s the part that doesn’t make sense at first…
So why move these ads to the BOTTOM of the page?
Every eye-tracking study and image I have seen shows VERY little movement to the bottom of the search pages where a user has to scroll down to even see them. Check out this heat-mapping eye-tracking image to see what I mean. The red spots mean most people look there and you can see where the attention drops off at the bottom of the page.
But you may also notice that the right side of the page gets very little attention as well. This is usually attributed to the fact that most of us read from left to right (at least in English), and we naturally look to the left side of the screen first.
Either way, the traffic drops considerably when you get to the bottom of the page. So why in the world is Google testing ads at the bottom of the page when all the traffic is at the top?
To answer that question you have to consider how little traffic is in the right sidebar where the ads are. And, no, it’s not just because it’s on the right side of the screen that less eyeballs go there. You know why no one hardly looks to the right of the search results???
Because we KNOW they are ads!
People are getting wise to the whole “sponsored ads” thing. We expect it when we watch our favorite TV show, but when we want REAL, and relevant information we want to cut out all the paid-for ads and we just want the bottom line.
But this spells big trouble for Google, right? I mean, their whole monetary stucture is built on these ads. If people stop clicking then they stop laughing all the way to the bank. And as time goes on these ads getting ignored more and more. It’s not just the internet marketers that are ignoring these ads. As people get more web-savvy it may actually hurt the PPC efforts of search engines like Google.
So what is Google’s answer?
Move the ads to the bottom. Why? Because they LOOK less like advertisements. Sure, they still have that colored box around them and the tiny little text that calls them ads, but here’s the thing…
People are NOT used to seeing them there. And when someone does scroll to the bottom of the page it means they did not find what they were looking for at the top of the page and are more likely to check out those ads as if they were organic search results.
Of course, this is all a theory of mine, but if you ask me, all this conjecture has a lot of solid evidence deeply rooted in the truth. Just think about it.
Who knows where all this testing will lead and if Google will just switch back to their old ways or not, but if I am right and more searchers are purposely trying to avoid clicking on ads, then it spells disaster for the Adwords business model.
Or at the least, Google is going to have to be a bit more creative and sneaky at displaying ads to users who are sick of them.
Tell me what you think in a comment below. I love hearing from my readers, even if you think I am crazy=)