Google Changes Impact of Ad Formats in Ad Rank

For the last decade, ad extensions have been served at Google’s mercy, using a secret, unpublished formula. If an ad had extensions enabled and ranked in one of the top three positions, it was eligible to be shown with a single extension, multiple extensions and sometimes even no extension.

old ad formats on serp

Pretty dismal situation for, who nailed position 1.

At times, this formula produced troubling scenarios. In some cases, the top ad would appear with no extensions, while the ads below it were decked out with many. This destroyed the first ad’s clickability, giving it’s lower-ranked competitors a leg up.

This scenario had the potential to get even worse with the SERP switch-up (now that four ads appear at the top and all ads can show extensions), so AdWords nipped it in the bud and introduced a new policy.

So, what changed?

Just last night, Google announced that it has adjusted the impact of ad formats in the ad rank formula.

This new plan is centered around ad prominence, which AdWords defines as “an estimation of your ad’s visibility on the search results page.” The two factors that affect prominence are ad position and ad formats (such as ad extensions and mega headlines).

Google recognizes that advertisers who achieve higher ad position deserve more prominence from robust ad formats. So, its system will no longer allow ads in lower positions to display more ad formats than those at the top of the page.

 ad format change

As you can see, the better your ad ranks, the better ad format it is granted.

What Does This Change Mean for You?

My guess is that it will have a fairly minor impact on account performance. (Of course, our in-house data scientist be diligently tracking the trends, so if we notice anything ground-breaking, we’ll be sure to let you guys know!)

That said, if an advertiser scores a high ad rank, but has not taken the time to set up specialized ad formats, they’ll miss out on these benefits. To put your best foot forward, you must enable all relevant ad extensions for your account and check in regularly to ensure that they are up to date. In addition, be sure that your first description lines are complete phrases or sentences, which will make your ad eligible to display with a mega-headline.

About the Author

Erin Sagin is a PPC Evangelist and Community Manager at WordStream. She was named the 3rd Most Influential PPC Expert of 2015 by PPC Hero. When she’s able to take a break from paid search, you’ll find her practicing her hula-hooping skills or planning her next trip to Latin America. You can follow Erin on Twitter and Google+.

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