Every time Google makes a change to their advertising formats and placement, everyone rushes to the erroneous conclusion that they’re just trying something to get more ad clicks. This is not and rarely is the reason for their latest test models. There are definitely changes that they’ve made to promote their ads, but most of the changes surround user preferences. Don’t forget, they’ll make more money when people trust their results rather than when they get tricked into clicking on something they didn’t really want.

The new format that they’re testing is all about consolidation of the interface. They are determined to unite the experiences that people can have regardless of the device they use and for the last two years they’ve been taking the approach that’s opposite of most others: they’re thinking mobile first, then adapting the desktop experience to match.

The change has already been getting tested on smartphones for a couple of months but started rolling out a couple of weeks ago on desktop searches. Rather than differentiate their ads with a shade of pink or grey and the word “Sponsored” written in there, they are opting for the cleaner and clearer look. There is no shading difference in the background and the word “Sponsored” has been removed. Instead, it’s simply a big yellow “Ad” badge to the left of the listing.

If anything, this makes things more clear to the user, so any thought that they’re doing it to coax more clicks on the ad is ludicrous. They’re just wanting a better experience.

This does have one beautiful effect for businesses using adwords. It promotes the differentiation more clearly, allowing those who are using very specific, targeted campaigns to get more attention if their message matches. In other words, it’s not just about keyword matching. It’s about drawing in the click based upon a promise. If this style rolls out more heavily or eventually becomes the norm, those who are advertising clear calls to action in their ads should see a more focused click. It may or may not generate more clicks, but the quality should improve.

There’s no need to go into why this is the case, but here’s a way to adjust your settings if you want to see the new ads for yourself. Information via All Google Testing:

  • Go to Google.com and load your browser’s developer console:
    • Google Chrome: Tools, Developer Tools
    • Mozilla Firefox: Web Developer, Web Console
    • Internet Explorer: Developer Tools (F12), Console
  • Copy and paste the following code:
    document.cookie="NID=67=fZMhOslEmj89jF4BBa0dZp3cPkmexqHQLhH2ygytYSQ9UnQqVevS6EI4rNL3oe7ZrFLpYMItjhYn6GZNhWdKfTU0NH3zMyN4ENcbW_W4g4YOEGqmZol9KfdBdskSOZjH; path=/; domain=.google.com";window.location.reload();
  • Press Enter and you’ll see the experiment.