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Google Text Ads get a new look

BY TOM HART | January 18, 2020

Both Google Ads and the organic listings have had a January 2020 facelift. New Year, New Search Engine Results Page (SERP). The desktop is late to the party, copying Google's mobile view in a fresh look.

Google announced this on their Twitter this month on January 13:

So, what's the big deal, haven't the paid ads always looked like that?

No, in short, they haven’t. 2020 is the most subtle text ad ever. As you can see from the evolution below, there is a definite and undeniable trend towards their camouflage to appear more native. In the early years, they had a background colour that clearly identified them against the organic listings. In 2011, they even trialled having an arrow pointing to headline one.

Ads in the years 2007-2010 were also labeled by a Sponsored Links message in the top right of the ad. This was replaced by the Ad message boxed in yellow. This stood out against the rest of the ad's messaging. In 2017, this changed to a green blocked and background, and more recently to a green outline. The green Ad is far more discrete, especially the late 2017 version. Green blends in with the advertiser’s URL that is also displayed in green. As you can see, the Ad symbol has got smaller and smaller as the years have gone by.

What do paid ads look like in 2020?

Now, the display URL has been moved above headline one. The advertiser's URL has been changed to a black colour and the ad label is also in black rather than green and does not have a background at all.

Furthermore, the organic listings are displayed with their brand logo in the same place as the ad label appears. Check out the example below for the search tutoring london.

The organic and ad listings look very similar. It is easy to scan Google's page as a whole and mistake the ad symbol for a brand's logo.

What does this mean for CTRs?

These changes should help improve click-through rates. Since the change was confirmed on the 13th of January, our entire client portfolio for Google has improved by at least 1%. Our top 20 highest spending clients' CTR has all improved since the change. This indicates that people are clicking ads more freely and there is a greater opportunity to convert this increase in traffic.

To find out how to capitalise on this, contact your Account Manager today.


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