Last updated on May 10th, 2018 at 12:35 pm

Late last week (February 19th) Google confirmed that the paid search results will change, a move which will be rolling out globally almost immediately. As the update is already reaching New Zealand, it’s important to know what to expect in the coming weeks.

What are the search result page changes?

The announced changes will apply to desktop results only, which currently account for less than half of all searches. The update will mean:

  1. No text ads will be shown on the right side of the search results on desktop;
  2. Four text ads, instead of three, will be served in the area above the organic listings;
  3. Three ads will still be shown at the bottom of the result page – meaning the maximum number of ads shown on a single result page will be reduced from 11 to 7;
  4. Product listing ad blocks and Knowledge Panels (sometimes with ads, as tests continue in these spaces) will show on the right side on relevant queries.

As the product listing ads are currently still unavailable in New Zealand, we can expect for the search result pages to look like this for now:


What are the reasons for the change?

The most popular opinions suggest Google is making the desktop results look more similar to the mobile version. However – with a strong push for independent mobile strategies and campaigns, driven by the functionalities of smartphone devices, this is an unlikely reason.

Freeing this space for shopping ads is a lot more important from a commercial perspective, and this is why we suspect the sudden change was made. This, of course, leaves many countries, including New Zealand, still waiting on the shopping ads to be introduced to the market.


How will this impact on your campaigns?

As the change is still very fresh, it is difficult to predict the exact impact it will have on budgets and CPCs. We are however expecting for the cost to increase, as fewer positions will be available for the ever-increasing number of advertisers. And if we keep in mind the majority of searchers don’t look beyond the first page of results – this makes the available 7 placements even more desirable.

This will of course also impact bidding strategies, as the differences between top and bottom ad performance will become more noticeable.

We will be updating you as soon as more information becomes available and the first results of this change will be seen in AdWords reporting.