The Inside AdWords blog announced yesterday that there will be a new report segment available in AdWords accounts: top versus side. Basically the idea here is that you can see how your ads perform when they’re placed above search results versus when they’re placed below search results – the focus here being on physical position on the page rather than the numeric order in which the ads appear. The report looks like this:
As with any new AdWords feature, the key question to ask as you’re shown more data by the folks at Google is: What can I actually do with this information? In this case the top versus side segment data can be useful in a few different ways.
What to Do with AdWords Top Versus Side Data
Looking at the new top vs. side reports, I see three interesting potential applications:
1. Understand how your most important keywords, and your keywords in aggregate, are being displayed and performing in certain positions in different areas in your account.
The idea here is to look at your account as a whole, and to drill down into specific areas of your account, to see what kind of difference in not only CTR lift (which will be nearly universal for ads featured at the top of the page) – but also cost per conversion – you’re seeing from ads placed atop the SERPs. This may be able to inform bid decisions within certain segments of your AdWords account.
2. Use the data to argue against bidding to position for pet keywords.
If you’re getting pushback from within your organization about having pet keywords show higher in SERP results, these reports could serve as solid ammunition to show that the actual return from that above-the-fold listing may not be worth overpaying for.
3. Tweak ad copy based on placement.
An interesting application of this data would be to pull reports within some of your high-volume ad groups. Take a look at the distribution of where your ads are shown: if you’re showing up in the side bar a majority of the time you might want to try to write more disruptive ads. If you’re above the fold frequently you might find that it’s more effective to just map your ad really well to the keywords within the ad group and let the ad position and keyword bolding do the work of attracting the visitor’s attention. Within a really high-volume ad group, a simple tweak like this can often have a big impact.
So How Important Is This Segment?
Ultimately this won’t be a game changer for most advertisers. On AdWords accounts that are already well-managed and have very high-volume groups that can generate statistical significance quickly, it can provide some interesting insights, but for most advertisers you’d be better suited understanding how to structure your campaigns, craft better ad copy, increase Quality Scores, improve landing pages, adjust bids, and so on (if you're not sure how you're doing on these factors, you can use the AdWords Grader tool to see how your campaigns compare against competitors').
So if you have an edge case where this data would be really helpful, have at it – otherwise, focus on fundamentally strengthening your account.
About the Author
Tom Demers is co-founder and managing partner at Measured SEM search engine marketing consulting, a boutique search marketing agency offering search engine marketing services ranging from pay-per-click account management to search engine optimization and content marketing and link building services such as guest posting services and blog consulting.