Google Tests Related PPC Ads in Sponsored Links
Google are well known for their prolific testing which often brings about changes that benefit users (such as universal search) or themselves (such as bringing the sponsored links closer to the natural listings). The latest test we have spotted in the search results pages could benefit both parties.
Take a look at the search page below which shows a UK search on “london parking”. In addition to the regular pay per click ads, we can also see two extra ads in the bottom right hand corner that don’t normally appear. These don’t seem to be related specifically to the actual search term, and Google specifies that these are instead “Related to cheap london city airport parking”.
The reason for showing these ads is fairly obvious – Google want to maximise potential ad revenue and also offer something they think might be useful to their users. Normally, up to 9 ads will show for this particular search query, so there is certainly space for two extra ads to show in this case. Why not fill that space with more ads?!
The reason for showing ads related to this specific query (”cheap london city airport parking”) is less obvious. Maybe it’s a particularly popular term, or one that people tend to try after a general search on “london parking”? Maybe it’s the next most popular related search that brings up any different advertisers. Interestingly, this is not one of the search phrases shown in the “Searches related to london parking” section at the bottom of the page. It’s also worth pointing out that this isn’t a search that we have carried out ourselves before, so Google isn’t picking up on past search queries.
It would be interesting to know whether these two advertisers were showing up due to their use of broad match or automatic matching.
We have only been able to replicate this on a few occasions since first seeing it, and we are yet to see examples with other searches, so it does appear to be a limited test at present. Has anyone else seen examples of this, or can anyone shed any more light on it? If so, please leave a comment below.
UPDATE: Google have now confirmed that this is a test “in which additional advertisements for related queries or refinements of the user’s original query may appear” and that the feature “offers advertisers with relevant broad match keywords another opportunity to reach their target audience.“