Feb 152012

New Google Enhanced Ad Sitelinks Offer More Real Estate to Top Ads

Ever since Google launched AdWords sitelinks back in 2009 they have been modifying and improving the format to provide a better user experience and deliver higher click-through rates to advertisers.  Yesterday, Google officially launched their newest and arguably biggest change to the sitelinks format in what they are calling Enhanced Ad Sitelinks:

Under the new Enhanced Sitelink format, Google will display two lines of text under each sitelink – essentially providing multiple sub-ads under the main text ad.  Google will dynamically fill the sub-ads by pulling ad copy text from elsewhere in the account to provide accurate and relevant messaging.  Google uses the sitelink destination URL and ad copy destination URL as the matching link to qualify which version of ad copy text to show for the sitelink.

The Enhanced Ad Sitelinks not only provide the user more information in the ad, they also take up a great deal more real estate on the page, benefiting the advertiser as well as Google itself.  In addition to this, it continues Google’s trend of designing ads that look more like organic results:

While this should have a positive effect on advertisers' click-through rates, it does raise some interesting questions.  Because Google is automatically determining the text that will show under the sitelinks, we will never be 100% certain that it will be the ideal choice.  If you happen to be testing multiple lines of copy with the same destination URL, which text will Google choose to show in the Enhanced Sitelinks?  If the advertiser is already choosing the sitelinks themselves, why not let them choose the text that will now accompany the sitelinks?  Also, to what extent is this simply cannibalizing "free" traffic that the advertiser would have received from the organic listings, particularly for searches on their own brand terms?

With all that said, the new sitelink format should ultimately be beneficial to the advertiser.  Again, overall CTR should improve, but also CTR on the now more prominent sitelinks should improve as well, helping users navigate deeper into the site on their initial click.  It should also be noted that it will clearly be beneficial to Google by driving more clicks and revenue for them.

If you have any thoughts or any changes in performance once you start to see the new sitelink format please feel free to share below.


7 Responses to "New Google Enhanced Ad Sitelinks Offer More Real Estate to Top Ads"
In related news, Google deployed Consistently Below-The-Fold Organic Rankings, which promise to drastically reduce organic CTR. Sergei Brin was quoted as saying "This is part of our ongoing effort to deliver the best results to our customers while simultaneously helping them forget that free results ever existed. End of interview, I have to go kite surfing."
It's not surprising that Google figured out yet another way to increase CTR, and I can't blame them for seeking higher profitability...it's the nature of the beast. But, in all of the examples of Enhanced Sitelinks I've seen so far, they only appear to be showing on branded keywords. Have you observed any other types of queries returning the Enhanced Sitelinks?
Chris, to play Devil's Advocate: where commercial intent is high, why should Google serve anything other than paid links? Are they not the most relevant results?
Andrew, I have searched for a number of high traffic non-brand terms and I can't get Enhanced Sitelinks to show for anything but brand ads either. Keep in mind that this product will be rolling out over time so it is not entirely surprising that they are not showing for each search query yet - hopefully they will start to show sooner rather than later.
I have a feeling this is only going to work for Brands..not the usual run of the mill keywords. It makes you wonder why they did not allow Advertisers more control of which text gets served where ..who knows. Searchengineman
Searchengineman, I agree completely - not sure I see the benefit of Google choosing the text over the advertiser. It is interesting however to suggest that Enhanced Sitelinks won't ever work for non-brand ads. I will definitely be keeping an eye on this moving forward, but I'm hoping you're wrong.


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