Google have this month introduced a new option to segment results within an AdWords campaign that is designed to help get more detailed information on how ads are performing in the different positions on the SERP – from Google's help section:
"Segmenting your data by "Top v Side" can help you optimise your search campaigns to serve your ads on the parts of the page that perform best for you."
So in theory this means that we should be able to lift the lid and look in a bit more detail about what the average position metric within AdWords actually means.
We used the new report to put this to the test and look into how certain campaigns perform when the ads appear at the top vs. the side. The campaign in question performs very well and has an average position of 3.4 which is a position we know to be efficient.
As you can see the impression split across the top and side is almost even which, with an Average position of 3.4 is what you would probably expect. What we were a little more surprised at however is extent of the 1,270% uplift in CTR that we saw between the 2 position areas. To ensure this wasn't an anomaly with the data we checked this across several campaigns and date ranges. This meant that almost 93% of clicks came within the top ad area. The CPC changes we saw between the 2 areas were also a slight surprise as we found very little difference between them. This would suggest the QS of being in the top positions, improved by the mammoth CTR increase, is such that the bids are more efficient.
This led us to thinking about how we could get more impressions into the Top and take advantage of the traffic being missed out on. The obvious and Google endorsed answer would be to push bids and get a higher average position and thus swing the percentage of impressions in the top positions in our favour.
We decided to test this theory and found more interesting and somewhat expected results. We pushed the bids by 30% and ended up with the following:
As you can the average position we had achieved in each of the 2 areas is pretty much the same for the 2 periods but we had moved a further 8% of impressions into the premium positions. This equated to a 22% increase in clicks. This would suggest that to get more and more impressions to the premium slots will get exponentially more expensive. This has the potential to impact heavily on conversion efficiencies and is definitely something that needs much more testing and interpretation before anything solid can be deduced.
In summary this little test shows that Google are continuing their policy of dangling slightly more, but still not quite enough, information for us to digest. The numbers it produces, at a first glance, might scare some into increasing their bids as a quick fix…Look how that worked out.