You remember how the old Google ads had a dark yellow background that made them real easy to see? Well, Google’s decided to change that. Now, they just have a nice yellow block saying “Ad” right below the big blue headline, like so:
Why did Google do This?
To some extent, Google is at odds with the government. They know they have to build relationships there, as authorities could crack down on Google and call it a “monopoly” in the world of search if they really pursued that accusation legally.
At one point, the FTC publicly voiced concerns the search engine results pages may not be clearly understood by searchers:
“We recommend that in distinguishing any top ads or other advertising results integrated into the natural search results, search engines should use: (1) more prominent shading that has a clear outline; (2) a prominent border that distinctly sets off advertising from the natural search results; or (3) both prominent shading and a border.”
So, that’s exactly the issue these changes address. With those dark yellow buttons below the titles, searchers can clearly tell which ads are paid, and which are not. No tests have been run yet, but you can logically assume the click-through rates will be greater because the ads are more noticeable.
And guess what? Google will likely see higher ad revenues as a result.
But, Google tests the living daylights out of everything, so this change may not be a permanent one, should it lead to lower click through rates.
Click-Throughs Could Decrease, but Sales Could Increase
As an example, one article mentioned a study was conducted on middle schoolers (prior to these changes being made), asking them to distinguish the difference between paid and unpaid search listings.
Not a single one could do it.
Logically, you could assume the same occurs with adults, but to a much lesser extent. Less savvy internet users may not realize organic listings don’t result in Google making money, or the advertiser being charged by Google.
So, if searchers realize some companies are paying to get found, and they know they’re really just searching for more information, they could be less likely to click on ads with no intention of buying. That could lead to more sales per click for companies online.
That’s just a theory, though, so don’t go running out the door and implementing it tomorrow.
We’ll see what happens, and always make sure you test your own ads to find out what works.