Live Search results used to have three mainline ad positions above the organic results in the past. This has now been increased to four mainline ad positions on the search engine results pages in the U.K, which means some users will not see any organic results without scrolling.
On Internet Explorer
When seen on an Internet Explorer (IE 7+) window, with no toolbars installed, ads now cover 49% of the screen area for Live Search results when seen on a monitor with 800 x 600 resolution, 44% of the results area at 1024 x 768 resolution and 37% of the results area at 1280 x 1024 resolution.
Ads seen on IE 8 with no active toolbars on an 800 x 600 monitor
With just one active toolbar installed, on Firefox the ads now cover 55% of the screen area for Live Search results when seen on a monitor with 800 x 600 resolution, 46% of the results area at 1024 x 768 resolution and 38% of the results area at 1280 x 1024 resolution.
Ads seen on Firefox with one active toolbar on an 800 x 600 monitor
According to Tina Kelleher of Microsoft, these changes have been made taking into consideration the feedback sent to Live Search by adCenter advertisers. This alteration will enable the generation of more clicks for pay per click campaigns being run on adCenter.
A recent report from analytics firm Covario found that global technology firms increased their ad spend on pay per click ads on Microsoft adCenter by 45.7% in the last quarter of 2008, compared to the same period in 2007.
The placement of a fourth mainline ad was introduced by adCenter last September in the U.S.A; and has shown very encouraging results in that market since then.
There is no mention of any consideration for how this change might be received by users and the impact it might have on the perceived quality of Live Search results.