Friday, December 4, 2015

3 Crazy New Ad Tests Being Spotted in the Wild

Can you remember the last time a friend or relative popped out of the woodworks to scare the bajesus out of you? That’s how I feel when I see new ad tests on the SERPs. Nerdy, yes, but PPC and SEO people who spend their days analyzing the SERPs can likely relate.

If you’ve been too busy collecting all of you Cyber Monday shipments to notice the crazy ad tests that have been running on Google and Yahoo this week, don’t fret, I’ve got the 411 for you. The tests spotted over the last few days have proven what we already know to be true, the SERPs are constantly changing! Without further or due let’s dive into the three tests that have left me spooked this week.

Test #1: 4 Paid Ads Above the Organic Listings on Google

Wait, what now? More competition? No thank you. Those with solid organic listings are not psyched to hear this news. For the last several years the max amount of paid ads above the fold has always been three, but this week Jennifer Slegg reported seeing four when searching on

New ad test four ads 

According to Slegg there’s no need to adjust your strategy just yet. “It does seem a limited test at the time,” she wrote earlier this week. “It is only showing up on Google India and not all searches trigger the four ads above the fold, even when there are multiple ads to display.” However, as of today the test is showing up in the US too for about 1% of keywords.

So, what does this mean for advertisers? If four ad slots are made available, it means more opportunity to rank in the top spots, so PPCers would likely be pleased if this test is ever released across all of Google search. 

Test #2: Full-Screen Video Ads on the Yahoo SERPs

Yah, you heard me. Scary, right? Yahoo has always had an interesting approach to search, but this test really takes the cake. Yahoo began testing a full-screen size autoplay video ad which basically engulfs the entire search engine results page. Yikes! Even though the videos starts on mute, the searcher must scroll down to pause or stop the ad from playing.


When scrolling down, the ad also includes ad text, the website URL, and a “Learn More” button directing to the advertisers landing page.

I’m guessing the majority of both advertisers and searchers are rolling their eyes at Yahoo. Is this level of obnoxiousness really necessary?


Slegg agrees, “This is a whole new level for in-your-face advertising on organic search results from a major search engine. Yahoo is making a big push for some of the in demand ad dollars…but you do have to wonder if this move will start alienating those hard-fought searchers who might jump ship to Google or Bing as a result.”

Test #3: Compare Mortgages Ads

Google’s Jerry Dischler has been spreading rumors about new ad formats for specific industries since the Google AdWords Livestream in May, and now we’re seeing them come to life in the financial industry. Google is testing a sponsored mortgage comparison feature, similar to the credit card comparison tool.


According to Moz’s Dr. Peter J. Meyers, “Listings appeared to be paid, but details of this program are unknown at the time.”

The SERPs continue to change faster than the seasons in New England, but luckily we’re here to keep you updated. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these new ad tests in the comments below!

About the Author:

Margot is a Content Marketing Specialist at WordStream with a background in PPC, SEM, content and digital marketing. Margot is passionate about writing and is also a regular contributor to Search Engine Journal and Social Media Today. Margot was recently named the 25th Most Influential PPC Expert in 2015 by PPC Hero. She enjoys running, sleeping on the beach, and eating ice cream during her free time. Follow her on:

Twitter: @ChappyMargot

Google+: +Margot da Cunha


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