In the wake of Google’s flat design overhaul and user interface improvements, it appears the company has begun testing a new format for displaying ads on desktop search engine result pages.
At any given time, Google is known to be testing dozens of features on randomly selected accounts, some being large experience enhancements and others smaller tweaks. In September, they introduced a new format for displaying Google AdWords on mobile devices by removing the yellow box around them and adding a yellow tag next to the link that simply says “Ad.” The effects of this have yet to be truly noticed or documented by advertisers, but metrics might be changing here in the near future with said interface improvement possibly coming to desktop browsers.
Historically, in pay-per-click campaigns run by Tier10, about 70 percent of all clicks come from desktop browsers. The removal of the colored background box blurs the lines between what is and what isn’t an ad. However, the yellow ad label displayed on the left does catch the eye.
Whether click-through rates will increase or decrease based on these changes is hard to tell, but one can be sure that Google won’t roll this out across all accounts unless they see positive results in the tests it is currently running.
Another factor that needs to be considered is how this will affect organic search. Though the yellow box is now gone, a fine gray line separates the AdWords links and the organic search results. If the line is enough to differentiate the ads from the search results to consumers, companies should not see a decrease in traffic through organic search results. However, if there is a increase in consumers whose eyes no longer skip past the ads, more companies may need to begin running pay-per-click advertising, just to ensure their site maintains “position one” on Google.