Could new-look sponsored ads on Google affect traffic?

Could new-look sponsored ads on Google affect traffic?

You may have noticed a subtle but very important change to the design of the results page on Google. Before, the sponsored ads were clearly defined with shading, but intermittently they have removed the shading and added a yellow tab with the word ‘Ad’ with a very faint line separating the ads from the first web page. This might not sound like much, but when you see how it appears, the result is initally quite dramatic. But because it is only happening intermittently it would seem as though Google are testing the new design before deciding whether or not to go with it.

While the eye is eventually drawn to the yellow ‘Ad’ tab, my first impression was that there were no ads and that the top sponsored page was the first result. This is great for the company that has paid for the ad. However, for anyone who has worked hard (or spent a lot of money) getting their website up to #1 on their respective search term, it might be a little disheartening to see their website effectively demoted to fourth spot. Of course, they are not actually now fourth, but there is no doubt that Google have managed to blur the line between ads and results and at least for a short time this may affect traffic for people used to the benefits of being at the top of their search term results.

The likelihood is that if the change is made permanent, eventually people will get used to spotting the new design of the ads and make a bee-line to the top of the actual results, but it would be interesting to see how long that process takes.

Google has a history of experimenting with their design in a highly analytical way to see the difference it makes to ad responses. The most impressive example was when they were experimenting with the shade of blue they use in the ad link. They tested 50 different shades before settling for the one they use now, and worked out that their decision resulted in an extra $200m a year in revenue.

This story illustrates a number of things. Firstly, how committed Google are to an ‘engineer first, design second’ approach, but secondly how incredibly important design decisions are online. Rosco Digital Media believes it is important to balance a design approach with the analytical nature of engineers, and this is why Rosco offers the best service to small businesses. We understand that a company’s website interacts with real human beings and has to meet their expecations as well as perform well with the top search engines. Contact us today to find out more about the Rosco Digital Media service for small businesses.

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