More than two months after Google removed paid ads from the right side of its search engine result page (SERP), Adobe has some encouraging news.

Overall, the change seems to generated a positive impact for most advertisers and consumers. It will also (not surprisingly) likely result in a slight increase to Google's revenue, Adobe found.

"We didn’t find a change in terms of click value,” said Sid Shah, who heads up web analytics and digital strategy and insights at Adobe. "Because there are now fewer ad positions, there is less clutter and consumers are clicking on ads with a higher propensity. They are more prone to click.”

'Killing Off the Dead'

Google changed its right side ad policy in February — a move Bill Nagel, co-founder and chief marketing strategist at Morrisville, N.C.-based Netsertive, a digital marketing intelligence company, described to CMSWire as "killing off the dead." 

On desktops, Google removed standard text ads from the right rail and opted to only show a maximum of four text ads above organic search results. It designated the space for commercial queries or "highly relevant" search results and Product Listing Ads (PLAs).

The changes cater to the shift in consumer behavior on mobile rather than desktop.

Adobe's Analysis of Google's Move

Adobe estimates ad impression volume dropped by 10 percent in the US. And fewer ads equal fewer ad impressions.

Because there are now a maximum of four ads and Google often only displays three, Adobe said there has been a significant shift in advertiser behavior — an increase in ads on the second and third positions. Click-through rates (CTRs) rose for all positions with the exception of No. 2, Adobe noted. The No. 1 position rose 13 percent, the No. 3 position rose 2 percent and the No. 4 rose 18 percent.


In general, advertisers are spending about the same for the same volume of clicks, although top ad positions cost a bit more and the need for machine learning aligned with granular data is becoming the standard. "The ability to manage campaigns manually is becoming much more difficult," Adobe noted.

And smaller advertisers are paying more to attain a top position and will see fewer impressions and clicks for the cheaper lower positions.

Learning Opportunities


Less clutter and more relevant ads are good for consumers.And since advertisers only pay for placements that produce results, consumers are getting value from the ads, Adobe reported.


The thing about the rich getting richer? Yeah, that's true: Adobe estimates Google generated a slight increase in revenue for itself. "The offsets between fewer impressions, higher CTR and the shift in CPC’s across positions, gives the indication that Google has made a good change," Adobe found.

Invest in Machine Learning

The message for the future: embrace data analytics and machine learning. 

Shah says Adobe will continue to invest in building algorithm capabilities, cross-device matching and channel optimization as Google transitions.

"We will keep our eye on organic cannibalization. We continue to advertise in the algorithmic programming tech. We found a lot of fear and uncertainty when Google announced these [changes].”