Performics POV: Clickable Arrows in AdSense Text Ads

Posted by Abby Wolf, Account Manager


On December 3rd, 2012, Google announced a new enhancement to the Google Display Network (GDN) text ads by placing a clickable arrow within the ad. The arrow is typically located to the right of the text for a standard ad, but can be in a different placement depending on the unit size. The arrow always points to the right, away from the ad but toward the next page it would click through to.

Google reported an increase in clicks for the initial test of the new arrow button, but results from real advertisers has been varied. This POV will discuss the impact of the new GDN enhancements and potential issues advertisers may see from this change.

Enhancement to GDN

As mentioned, the most noticeable change within Google was the implementation of the arrow on text ads. Other enhancements have also rolled out for the GDN, namely slight variations in font size, spacing, and the overall text layout of these ads. These changes were implemented to provide a more consistent look and feel among all devices.

The arrows are suggested to improve performance on mobile devices by causing text ads to stand out on the page more, as well as provide an easier way for a user to click through the ad. Rather than only implement the arrows via mobile, Google included this enhancement for all GDN text ads on all devices.

These changes are automatic and at this time have no opt-out feature. Some customizations are available however, such as varying the color of the buttons based on the color palette of the page. The example below shows the gray arrow because the background itself is white.

ScreenHunter_01 Jan. 16 14.23
Clickable Arrow Implications

With these changes still fresh, several advertisers and searchers have spoken out regarding performance of the arrow button. An increase in clicks and CTR has been reported from several sources, however it is estimated that clicks will ultimately decrease once the average searcher realizes what the button does. Confusion about where the arrow directs a searcher to can be attributed to increased clicks as some users have stated it looks like a “Next” button for the page, not the advertisement.

Webmasters are also crying foul at the new ads due to a more “spammy” look. Some websites are claiming that while clicks have increased, the traffic is not high quality, resulting in lower profits from AdSense. It has even been suggested that some serious designers who can’t handle the eye sore of this new button will pull AdSense entirely.

For now, no major changes have been made to banner ads on the GDN, so some advertisers are pulling text ads and only running banner ads. Text ads can get lost on a GDN page between content and banner ads, so the arrow will intuitively result in more clicks. Text ads typically have a much lower CPC on the GDN compared to CPC on the Search network as well as CPC for banner ads. Because of this enhancement, advertisers could get more clicks and a higher CTR for a lower CPC.

Recommendation for Advertisers

Advertisers can expect similar results in text ads on the GDN as mentioned above. This change can result in less relevant and less qualified GDN traffic and may even mean there are fewer sites included in the GDN moving forward. An increase in clicks and CTR should be expected but may not retain performance, as more searchers are aware of this change.
However, because there is no immediate option to opt-out of these enhancements, Performics recommends advertisers continue to run text ads on the GDN. If not running text ads on the GDN, advertisers could miss out on some highly relevant traffic that would not otherwise have been driven to their sites.  Advertisers can take advantage of the lower CPCs and increased clicks by continuing to run text ads.  However, advertisers should pay close attention to any significant changes in CTR or performance on the GDN.

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