In a move that is surprising many, Google announced this week that it will no longer display sponsored links and ads along the right side of their search results pages. According to SearchEngineLand.com this change is the culmination of internal testing that has been ongoing at Google since 2010.
While this represents a significant reduction in available ad space for Google, the company is also adding a fourth sponsored ad location at the top of the page as well. This should result in fewer ad spots being displayed overall, and higher bids for the available locations do to their scarcity.
Some industry watchdogs are unhappy with the likely outcome that large corporate entities will now be able to block out competition more easily by simply outbidding smaller start-ups on lucrative keywords for a few slots rather than engaging in the prohibitively expensive practice of trying to buy all the slots on the right side as well. Opponents counter that the right side ads were notoriously overlooked by consumers and resulted in poor CTR for advertisers in any case.
With the proliferation of ad blocking software, ability of jaded netizens to overlook ad spots intentionally, and staunch prohibitions on embedded advertising put in place by the Federal Trade Commission, it is becoming increasingly difficult for commercial entities to get their messages in front of their target consumers. Add in the sharing economy favored by millennials, the rampant distribution of pirated content online, and we are left with an ecosystem that requires a great deal of creativity to profit from successfully.
However, for those that do find ways to stand out from the crowd, the enormous revenue available is worth all the adapting necessary to stay ahead of the curve.