You may have noticed it: those trusty AdWords ads that appear to the right of your search results seem a little bit closer to them than they did before.
It's not an optical illusion. Others are seeing it too. I first saw myself the other day when I did a search and had to do a double-take.
The incredible moving AdWords ads to not appear to be a global phenomenon -- yet. I'm currently traveling and they appeared on a search I made while connecting through the hotel's network; when routing my connection through a proxy, the more distant AdWords ads were displayed.
Based on this observation, it's probably safe to say that Google is testing the efficacy of the new ads. Do they produce more clicks? Do they produce more quality clicks?
There's an interesting comparison to be made to Bing in this regard: when research firm User Centric performed an eye tracking study comparing Bing to Google back in June, it found that Bing's sponsored search results on the right side of the page caught the attention of 42% of the participants while AdWords ads on the right side of Google SERPs only caught the attention of 25% of the participants.
While one of the reasons for this may be that Bing is new and users haven't had time to develop the same level of ad blindness they have with AdWords, User Centric found that ads above the organic search results above Bing and Google received a similar amount of attention, hinting that ad blindness wasn't all there is to it. You'll notice that when it comes to the ads on the right-hand side of the page, Bing's ads are placed much closer to the organic search results than are Google's. Therefore it seems logical that the proximity does play some role here.
Given that Google generates billions of dollars in revenue each quarter from AdWords, if Google's experimentation with AdWords placement proves effective, the impact could be quite significant.