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.

Patricio Robles

Published 12 August, 2009 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (3)

Paul McManus

Paul McManus, Head of Mobile at Betway

I'm on a resolution of 1440 x 900 and after reading this I just tried a simple search, and low and behold... the adverts were much closer to the left hand side. Funny thing is, I've done other searches this morning and not noticed it, until somebody pointed it out to me.

Am I still normally ad blind like most users out there? Good move by Google anyway.

almost 9 years ago


London IT Support

such a simple decision could make more money for Google than any other change to adwords. "Ad Blindness" is developed over time, simply changing the location of the adverts could result in a massive percentage increase!

almost 9 years ago

Matthieu Dejardins

Matthieu Dejardins, CEO & Founder at CloudNCo, Inc.

According to Washington Post: "Google spokesperson confirms that it is always "experimenting with new visual representations" and that it "shifted the ads to the left on the page as a way to help users find what they are looking for on the Internet." See, it's for your own good. You were looking for the ads the whole time"

Moreover, it's worth mentioning that Google is currently update its Search Engine with Caffeine project. Coincidence? not sure...

almost 9 years ago

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