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Did Recent Google SERP Changes Have The Effect We Were All Expecting?

As an avid reader of all things PPC related, I was particularly excited to read the great Larry Kim’s analysis of the recent changes to the Google SERP changes, when the much revered right hand side ad positions were removed in favour of having a Top 4. Like many in the industry, I’ll hold my hand up and admit that I panicked, I feared for the smaller advertisers, I worried for my average CPCs and I spent days going through all of our accounts with a fine-toothed comb ensuring our clients had someone on the case at all times. But was this just a big over-reaction? Well, yes, yes it was.

On March 24th, while perusing Facebook (in my own time…) I was targeted with a sponsored post entitled “Google’s Right-Side Adpocalypse: Anatomy of a Loser’. I’ll admit it was Homer Simpson that initially piqued my interest, some good click-bait right there, Larry. The opening line discussing our industry’s initial reaction of ‘…CPCs would skyrocket.” was pretty much a direct quote from my conversations with the PPC team here at WMG. But it appears that this was not the case.

When reviewing some data from our largest clients, I’ve had a look at the weeks previous to the ‘Adpocalypse’ and the weeks after. It makes for some interesting analysis, what seems obvious is that there has been nothing but a positive, almost calming effect.

Here we see data from a campaign targeting the whole of the UK with a pre-Adpocalypse average position of < 4.0. Note the ominous red arrow indicating the approximate date of which Google rolled out the change.

Average Position by Week


Average Position increased from 4.2 to 3.7 period on period.

Average CPC by Week


Average CPC increased from £0.66 to £0.68, only 2.84%.

From this, we can determine that the impact of Adpocalypse was nowhere near what we had anticipated, with a relatively solid jump in average position but only a 2.84% rise in average CPC

So, what effect has this had on the CTR?

CTR by Week


Here we see average CTR increase from 4.14% to 5.58%, an incredible change of 34.58% period on period.

So for this advertiser, whose ads within this campaign were consistently appearing on the right hand side, the change has been nothing but positive, now appearing in the Top 4 positions consistently and only paying 2.84% more per click than they previously were while enjoying a 34.58% increase in CTR.

In summary, we’re simple creatures with an aversion to change which tends to lead us into a sense of insecurity and impending doom, often without reason. The results from some of our larger advertisers speak for themselves, but next month we’ll be looking at the effects the changes have had on smaller clients and how they have fared during the Adpocalypse.