“Bidding” Farewell to Right Rail Ads

Right Rail Ads Now Obsolete

On February 22nd, Google stopped showing paid search ads to the right of search results. Google has tested the effectiveness of right rail ads, and just recently announced the decision to remove them due to low click-through-rates across all advertisers.

What’s Changing?

  • No traditional search ads will be featured on the right rail of the page
    • Increase in the number of ads above organic results from three to four
    • Up to four ads will appear at the bottom below organic results
  • Product Listing Ads (PLA’s) and Knowledge Graph results will continue to show in the right rail
    • Ads within the Knowledge Graph results will still be shown
  • Desktop results will look more similar to mobile search results

Google is always quietly testing new features in their search engine result pages, both visually and algorithmically. While this is one of the more significant changes for paid search, Delphic has made strategic moves months in advance to keep the performance of our clients’ paid search performance consistent.

Impact on Paid Search

Fewer ad positions will increase competition. We anticipate the following direct impact on campaign performance:

  • Potential decrease in traffic
  • Higher cost per click (CPC)
  • Potential higher cost per lead (CPL)
  • Impact on ad position & impression share
  • Greater decline in average position for non-brand keywords than brand

Impact on SEO

A fully optimized website is critical, especially on mobile devices where organic results are well below the fold and a user must scroll to reach them.

  • The knowledge graph results are even more valuable for desktop searches and emphasize the need for schema tags to be in place to help influence these results as much as possible.
  • Organic positions 1-3 as well as local listings are more important than ever before.

General Recommendations

It will be difficult to fully determine impact on user and competitor behavior following this change. Campaigns should be analyzed over the next few days and weeks to determine if shifts in strategy are necessary.

Below are recommendations to lessen the impact on paid search performance and goals:

  1. Increase keyword bids to remain competitive while advertisers adjust
    • Bid management tools (e.g., Marin) will help automatically adjust to changes
    • Evaluate the value in lower ad positions; fewer ads may drive users to page 2
  2. Improve quality score to increase ad rank (without increasing spend)
    • Optimize landing pages with more relevant content (keyword > ad > landing page)
    • Identify opportunities to create more granular campaigns and ad groups
  3. Integrate SEO best practices, schema tagging and optimized content
    • SEO is a long-term tactic and a sustainable source of free traffic, helping to sustain traffic in the absence of paid search
    • Relevant content is even more important and will help maintain high quality score for paid search
    • Advertisers with high quality scores are more favorable and ads typically rank higher
    • Schema tags help pull web sites into the knowledge graph results
  4. Identify opportunities and/or shift budget to Bing
    • Paid search traffic from Bing is typically less expensive than Google
    • Maximize exposure and increase leads through Bing to offset declines in Google

Delphic’s Approach

  1. Marin Bid Management: Our shift to Marin and utilization of automated bidding will dynamically optimize keyword and ad position to yield the highest lead volume at our target cost per lead, no matter the position of the ad.
  2. Multi-Channel Strategy: Delphic’s integration of SEO best practices, including schema markup, optimized content, and digital asset optimization, serves as a sustainable source of unpaid traffic and leads. Our team continues to encourage a multi-channel approach to help soften the impact of ongoing changes in the paid digital environment.


Please reach out to our team if you have questions about your account or an opinion on this change. We love to hear from you!

  • Kayla

    Great tips. Thanks for sharing!

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