As of February 19, 2016 Google will kill all search side ads. Ads will now only be shown on the top and/or bottom of the page.
Now, the right hand side will be used for product listing ads...
...as well as knowledge panels...
Depending on how commercial the search query is, the number of ads on the top of the page will grow from 2 ads to as many as 4 ads. However, the overall number of ads that will be shown on a page will decrease from 11 to 7 ads.
So how will this influence digital advertisers?
First off, paid search is expected to become more competitive. That is, competition for the top slots will increase and the average CPCs will increase.
Second, organic ads will be pushed down further, forcing companies to concentrate more on SEO.
Why are they doing this to us!?
Last year, mobile search queries surpassed desktop queries! So the change was made to make desktop more similar to mobile. Furthermore, Google has come to the conclusion that the CTR for side ads is low and, of course, the expected CPC inflation should make it more profitable in the long run.
So what do you do?
First things first, you need to step up your game. Your average position target will have to be higher. Since competition will increase, some keywords might have to be excluded and you’ll have to focus on more relevant keywords.
Questions? Feel free to comment below.