Google Testing New AdWords Format

Robert Brady

Robert Brady

Google is always experimenting with new ad formats and placements. These tests are usually shown only to small numbers of users before wider adoption based on results. This past week I caught one of these tests in the wild

SERPs Are Always Changing

Initially the ads on AdWords all appeared on the right side of search results. Later AdWords introduced a 3-pack of ads that appeared above the organic results. Then, in February of 2016 AdWords did away with the right side text ads entirely while adding a fourth ad above the organic listings. Add in the text ads that appear below the organic results and you can see that ad placement on the SERPs is a very dynamic thing.

Google Testing Single-Line Ads

This past week I was doing some research into a company that produces outdoor furniture from recycled plastic. I was on my Android smartphone and typed the query “furniture from recycled plastic”. I looked at the paid ads on top and the organic results but was quite surprised to find this at the bottom of the page:

Single-Line AdWords Ads

As you can see, this ad block contains ads from 8 different advertisers and the actual ad unit is simply the domain of the advertiser with what looks like a favicon. No Headline 1 & 2. No Description line. No ad extensions. These are as plain an ad could be with almost zero context.

What Does This Mean For Advertisers

First, we need to remember that this is just a test. I haven’t been able to replicate it. So don’t go making drastic changes to your campaigns based on this knowledge. However, there are a couple of things to consider.

  • Will these clicks be charged the same as normal text ads? Given the lack of supporting copy and context, I would hope that Google didn’t charge for these clicks at all. But if they did I hope it was a highly discounted rate.
  • How are these reported in AdWords? There were 4 ads at the top of this results page and 8 in the pack shown. That means 12 positions total. If gets a click will it report as position 11, but still a first page click? Lots of questions here.
  • If this becomes more common, what should you do? I would anticipate that clicks on these types of ads would be heavily influenced by brand perception. A company you’ve heard of, like would be more likely to pull in that click than some anonymous site like

In conclusion, I don’t foresee this test getting much traction. The CTR is likely very low due to the placement (bottom of a page on mobile) and the lack of supporting copy.


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