On or around the 23rd of February 2016 Google announced the death of its sidebar ads reducing the number of available ad slots on the first page of search results.

Interview with Google Pay per click expert

We spoke to PPC advertising expert Gemma Purnell on the impact of this change for advertisers and how small and medium enterprises can protect themselves from rising Google CPC charges.


1>Gemma, in your article ‘The Death of Google Sidebar Ads’ which was published shortly after the change was announced you stated that “according to the laws of supply and demand cost per click is most likely going to rise for many SEM advertisers particularly those in high competition industries.” Do you still believe that this is the case based on what you have seen over the last four weeks?

“Well, looking at the results of my campaigns over the last four weeks, it is difficult to tell as my campaigns are very tightly managed and we’ve actually seen some decreases in costs. In order to get a really true picture of what is happening with the average campaign, I was given access to the campaign of a local business owner who hasn’t made any campaign changes since the update.”

death of adwords side bar

“What we see is a slight – 5% increase on average when comparing the last four weeks to the four weeks before the change, whether or not this is 100% due to the change in ad layout we can’t be sure. It will take quite a few months before we start to see the real impacts of these changes as there are so many factors that can affect an Adwords campaign.”

“These changes may not seem significant now but they should be monitored to see if they continue to increase”.


2> What do you think that advertisers need to do if their cost per click is starting to rise?

“If your cost per click is starting to rise since the death of the sidebar ads, then the first item you need to address is your quality score. Identify any keywords with a quality score of less than 4 and pause them until you can improve their score.”

“Consider the relevance of these keywords to your overall campaign and business goal, if they are not directly related then remove the keywords.”

“If the keywords are relevant to your overall goal but not well matched to the ads in the ad group or the landing page then consider creating additional ad groups to improve their performance.”

“Then look at your click-through rate, CTR is a major factor in quality score, so effectively the better that your CTR is then the less you will pay per click. But be careful, there is a fine balance between a good click-through rate and one that is so high that it negatively affects your conversion rate.”


3>What kind of impact do you think this change will have going forward?

“Right now, it’s difficult to say, my campaigns are performing well if not better than before, I’ve seen some campaigns which are not set up as well as they could be showing a downward turn. My advice is that if you are considering using Google Adwords as a part of your marketing strategy then seek professional advice.


Gemma Purnell is a Digital Marketing Consultant who specialises in helping SME’s to improve their online presence through one to one consulting and internal team training. She is also a Google Partner Academy Trainer and founder of the international digital marketing brand – PDS Online.

Article brought to you by Jon Ng
Founder of Novatise Pte Ltd

We help SMEs in Singapore to create digital solutions to increase sales and productivity. At Novatise, we work in a lean environment as such, no sales person is involved.

Comments are closed.