Google Betas: Paid Search Enhancements Are Welcome and Long Overdue

In 2009, Google released a slew of paid search betas mostly to support retail advertisers.  These betas are, where applicable, being rolled out to other verticals too.  Examples include GAN Product Ads, Product Plus Box (renamed Product Extensions) and Ad Sitelinks which we wrote about late last year.

Google is heavily diversifying these days, rolling out a smorgasbord of new initiatives.   Tangentially, most enhancements are related to where search is now and/or where search is going in the future.  These are welcome innovations in that they focus on how paid ads are displayed to searchers.  Up until last year, paid search display had been remarkably stagnant:  one to four shaded sponsored listings at the top of Page 1 and the rest running stacked along the right.   

Google Paid Search Display

The organic and the paid sides of search are best described as church and state.  I’m not sure which is which, but on the organic side, innovations in the way search listings are displayed have been happening more quickly and steadily.  In the past, organic search results primarily contained a list of websites relevant to the search term.  Now keyword searches return a much more varied list of results that include content from blogs, YouTube, Flickr, news sources, Facebook, websites, image ads on product search and, now, tweets in real time. 

The merging of all these different content sources on Google’s natural search results is called Universal Search, and it definitely keeps evolving, reacting to, and incorporating new types of online content.  While the way paid ads are displayed has remained static, organic display has enjoyed a considerable amount of experimentation and subsequent rollouts over the past few years. 

So now enhancements to the way paid search ads display are starting to accelerate.  Ad Sitelinks, product extensions, product ads, and video ads are a pretty big change to what we’re used to seeing for paid search.  Some of these new paid search changes are yielding real increases in traffic.  For others, it’s too soon to tell what the impact will be.   Ultimately, though, it’s great to see the paid search side of the business catching up to the innovations enjoyed on the organic side.  We hope there are many more enhancements to come.

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