Google is now testing four AdWords ads above the organic search results. I started getting reports recently about Google showing 4 ads earlier this week, and was able to trigger it.
Here is an example for a search I did:
I was only able to trigger four ads above the organic results when using Google India at Google.co.in. I tested multiple other country-specific Google search results but was unable to trigger the four ads for any other country.
This is quite big news that Google is testing four ads above the fold, although for most desktop users, organic results are still above the fold unless they are using a fairly small monitor. It also is similar to Yahoo, with their regular four ads above the fold, something that has been viewed fairly negatively by Yahoo users.
It does seem a limited test at this time. It is only showing up on Google India and not all searches trigger the four ads above the fold, even when there are multiple ads to display. In fact, when I checked with another browser, I was no longer able to trigger four results above the organic results.
However, if this ends up being released across all of Google’s search domains, it could be a game changer. The organic top spot would be pushed down one more spot, for those who are strictly getting organic traffic. But for AdWords advertisers, it does open up another premium ad position in the crucial above-the-fold area. So I suspect AdWords advertisers will be pretty happy with this test.
Update: We have now confirmed they are also testing 4 AdWords ads above the search results in both the US & Germany too.
Update from Google:
Google confirms that this is part of their experimentation with how they display ads within the search results. They are displaying 4 ads for some desktop search queries. It isn’t a permanent change and Google is only testing this for a small number of search queries.
H/T Ross Kaplan-Winn, who spotted “Adposition=1t4” via analytics with ValueTrack, and contacted me about it.
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Chuck Price says
How long before all of the page one results are paid?
Looks like at least fold will be payed.
David Rothwell says
I saw this recently but didn’t screenshot it. There were no ads on the side but there were also additional ads at the bottom of the results page.
I work with many home service based advertisers so my comment is biased towards PPC advertising, and specifically for the home service industry.
As long as the search results are relevant to the user, an entire page of ads would be great.
Those who deserve to be at the top of organic usually have an ad to accompany them thus giving them two spots on the first page. If the same company has a brick and mortar location, they can potentially have a spot in the top 3 of the map section. This means 3 spots on the first page of Google search results!
Personally I don’t think it’s ethical for one company to take up three places. Rather share the real estate and let other companies have a chance.
The user has more choice, SEO companies become AdWords management companies, Google generates tons more revenue, and businesses don’t have to try balance PPC and SEO. Peace on earth comes next!
Dr. Pete says
I retuned MozCast to get better counts, and we’re seeing evidence of this in testing in the US. I can’t replicate it this morning, but about 1% of queries in our data set with top ads recorded 4 top ads last night. I’ll try to grab screen captures tonight for Google.com/US.
I have four ads showing at the top here in Australia this morning. No ads on the side.
I can confirm that the update is visible also in Romania on some keywords with lots of competition. Seems like a global roll-out.
For Chuck, the first commentor: basically with the 4th top placement, we have very little visibility for the top organic result on standard resolution laptops. So, it does not really matter if the organic result is shown or not, at least in my point of view.
Scott Davis says
This is also happening on mobile SERPs, fyi.
Jennifer Slegg says
Yes, I’ve seen it in mobile as well.