Click-through rates (CTR) for AdWords ads in positions 1-4 on desktop/laptop computers have grown by 49% after Google eliminated the right-column ads on the search results page, according to research published by digital marketing agency AccuraCast. The layout-change, which was implemented on February 19, 2016, has paid off in a major way, resulting in a significant jump in revenue from AdWords search advertising.
Over a 12-month period after February 19th, 2016 the click-through rate for the ad in the top position averaged 7.65%, up almost 33% from 5.77% during the preceding 12-month period. Ads in the second position did show only a modest boost in click-through rate, 14.5 % on average. Those in the third and fourth positions rose by 72% and 52%, respectively to 2.2% and 1.64%. Ads in the 5th position, below the organic search results, saw a minor drop in click-through rate from 0.84% to 0.78%. The decrease in click-through rate for ads in position 5 is surprisingly low, considering that ads in this position are now located below the fold and the organic search results.
AccuraCast examined the Google AdWords click-through data of 2 million searches, over a 12-month period, before and after they eliminated the ads that appeared in the right-hand side column of the desktop search results and added a fourth ad position above the organic search results, primarily for commercial queries.
The removal of all right-side ads not only boosted the click-through rate for AdWords search ads but also made the desktop and mobile search results more similar. On mobile, though, Google typically shows either two or three ads at the top of the search results.
Note, however, that Expanded Text Ads for AdWords, which were rolled out on Google search in July 2016, may have potentially impacted the click-through rate for Google search ads.