Google’s side-ad shakeup, wherein it quietly removed all adverts from the right-hand-side of its search results, caused considerable consternation in the search marketing world when it was rolled out last month.

Now the initial panic has subsided, it appears the damage isn’t as bad as first thought. This study by WordStream allays several fears, namely that cost-per-click hasn’t gone through the roof and, according to their data, side ads accounted for a small proportion of traffic.

Perhaps most interesting of all is the finding by Moz that “four pack” ads (the four ads that appear at the top of the search results – see image below) are not as dominant as expected. This could present an opportunity, particularly for B2B advertising.

The B2B opportunity

An obvious difference between advertising to businesses and advertising to consumers is that B2B queries typically have much lower search volumes than consumer areas, since the former are necessarily niche.

While search volume doesn’t necessarily correlate to the number of active advertisers, B2B searches are typically less competitive. Furthermore, results pages tend not to have answer boxes, maps, knowledge graph information and other “extensions” to the search results. They are frequently returned with one or two adverts appearing above the 10 non-paid results.

Less cluttered results pages now mean that advertisers can focus on getting prominent placements for adverts.

One tactic could be to analyse adverts that previously appeared outside the top three positions, which were likely to have been side ads. Campaigns and ad groups containing these types of ads could then be assessed to determine whether bids and copy should be adjusted. This could involve increasing bids on keywords that could drive the most useful traffic, or removing those considered to be ineffective. The overall goal is always to make PPC campaigns more efficient with the budget being spent more effectively.

While it’s easy to dismiss any changes Google makes to its search results pages as a means of protecting or increasing its main revenue stream, they key for advertisers is to ensure their paid search campaigns are relentlessly relevant.

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