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On the 19th of February 2016, Google stopped showing ads on the right-hand side of desktop search results. Instead, a fourth ad is now shown above the organic search results and up to three ads are shown at the bottom of the page, below the organic results. Early data analysis shows that this has resulted in higher click-through rates for all but one of the top four ad positions.

The table below shows click-through rates during the 7-day period before and after the change in ad placements on Google desktop search results:

Position New
click-through rate
click-through rate
Change in CTR
1 4.20% 3.877% 8.4%
2 1.24% 1.15% 7.7%
3 2.04% 2.16% -5.6%
4 0.81% 0.68% 18.2%

Comparing click-through rates for each position before and after the change, we can see clearly ads in position 4 have benefited the most, getting an 18.2% boost in clicks on average.

CTR Before v After 19 Feb 2016

Interestingly, the only position above organic results whose CTR dropped after the change, has been for position 3. This is understandable, as the third ad unit used to sit just above the organic search results. Now it’s in the middle of a block of ads, and is more likely to be skimmed over, unless advertisers take special care to embellish ads in that spot.

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Data for this analysis was taken from a two-week period, analysing over half a million individual searches for a range of industries for ads that remained at the same position before and after the change.