04 Aug 2011

AdWords Top vs. Side Segmentation

August 04, 2011PPC Advertising

Each AdWords ad is given its place in the Sponsored Ads Results based on rank and quality score, but have you considered how top or side placement affects the click through rates associated with those ads? It can have quite the impact on CPCs and CTRs.

On July 13th, Google announced the new feature “Top vs. Side Ad” Performance Segmentation. This brings a whole new way to report on the effectiveness of your ad placement. It will help you understand how your ads are performing on Google and Search Partner pages and if they are faring positively or negatively based on their designated “top of page” or “side of page” spot, rather than their numerical position as has been used for reference in the past.

When your ad ranks at the top of the search results it is much more likely to get clicks. The fact that Google formats it to mirror the organic search results is also helpful for click through rates. To be more specific, one case study showed that those Top ads generated 15 times more clickthrough than their Side competitors. This new performance segmentation eliminates that question by allowing you to monitor your position and place bids to optimize your placement for profitability and CTR.

This data can be viewed in the Campaigns or Ad Group tabs of your AdWords account. Choose “Top vs. Side” from the segment menu to see data displayed for each item in your reports. Use this data to compare the cost per conversion and clickthrough rates. In many campaigns we will notice huge differences in profitability. Compare your CTRs, cost per click, cost per conversion, and conversion rates in each location to optimize for higher ROI.



  • Fred van Engelen Sep 12, 2011

    Some of my ads have 20x higher CTRs at the top compared to the side. I know I can place higher bids to increase the chance that my ad is displayed at the top, but I would like to prevent side displays altogether. Is there a way to do that?

    In other words, is there  a way to tell Google: if the auction results in a top display for my ad display it, but if it results in a side display do not display it.

  • admin Sep 22, 2011

    Hi Fred,
    We are seeing that 20x difference in most of the account we manage too. Google used to offer position placement as an option but they dropped that feature around the time they made the more detailed segmenting available. Not double they were concerned that many advertisers would just opt in for the top three placements only.