As mobile search continues to grow in importance and steal share of overall search from desktop, it is Google’s number one objective to ensure they effectively monetise this channel. As pointed out in a previous post they only have a couple of levers they can pull to maximise revenue through search assuming search volume is already taken care of. These are average CPC generated per search, and CTR on revenue generating listings.
Whilst performing a few search on my mobile (iPhone) at the weekend I noticed a new display feature on the mobile paid search listings which I hadn’t seen before and a few tweets seemed to confirm that this was new and I was part of a test.
Historically Google has always labelled Adwords listings as ‘sponsored’ or ‘Ads’ and differentiated them with a (slightly) different background colour and a logo top right of the screen, as seen below in a screenshot taken this morning.
But on Saturday what I was getting was different. The background colour has been removed and each paid listing had a gold/yellow icon next to it labelling it as an ad.
Now Google runs tests all the time so it may be this format never makes it beyond a test group however this change is a lot less subtle than those previous and could be looked at from a number of different angles.
- Angle 1: Google is being more transparent in labelling which listings are paid and which are not therefore providing a more clear choice for the user.
- Angle 2: Google is trying to increase CTR from their paid listings. By placing them on the same background colour and including an eye catching logo which increases stand out. Seller ratings and Google+ are said to increase CTR by anywhere between 5-20% through the inclusion or a differentiating icon. Whilst this badge doesn’t provide the same by way way of recommendation, it could have a similar affect in terms of stand out.
What do you think? A good hearted move to be more transparent or a cynical move to increase CTR?