Ding dong: Bing sidebar ads are no more.
According to a blog post Bing published earlier this week, extensive SERP layout testing has revealed that results pages excluding sidebar text ads resulted in more clicks for advertisers. In response to this revelation, the #2 search engine has decided to retire sidebar ads in the US market.
According to Bing’s release on the change—which officially took effect on March 26—testing has showed that SERPS without sidebar text ads “drove overall click gains for advertisers, particularly for existing Mainline Text Ads and Product Ads, with an immaterial impressions impact.” Note the word “text.” As evinced in the screenshot above, shopping ads will maintain their current perch to the right of search results.
Let’s look at how this largely aesthetic improvement could impact your Bing Ads.
History Repeats Itself
If you recall, this isn’t the first time a search engine has stripped sidebar ads from its SERPs. Back in 2016, Google made this exact move and, guess what: It had some interesting effects on performance.
The biggest winner of the change when Google made the switch? Ads in position three.
Per our data at that time, ads in position three saw their CTRs double in the weeks following the shift away from sidebar ads. The move also put the spotlight on shopping ads, which saw a similar lift in CTR:
While Bing and AdWords aren’t an apples-to-apples comparison, it seems like a safe bet to assume the removal of sidebar ads will have a comparable impact. If you notice a bump (or dip) in your CTR, let us know about it in the comment below!
How Will The Removal of Sidebar Ads Impact Bing’s Advertisers?
More clicks (for some)!
Bing’s release detailing the change indicates that the shift away from sidebar ads will place more ads below search results. This space affords advertisers the opportunity to leverage “richer ad formats, which sidebar ads did not.” While Google’s removal of sidebar ads saw ads in lower positions suffer, Bing’s use of richer ad formats in the unenviable spots below organic rankings could actually enhance performance.
It’s also worth noting that the reduction of total ads on the SERP from 12 to 8 could mean advertisers with extremely limited budgets and zero optimization efforts will see their ad frequency diminish; odds are, that if you’re reading this post, you don’t fall into this category.
And if you really miss Bing sidebar ads for some reason, the ads on SERPS outside of the US and on partner networks like AOL and Yahoo will go unchanged (for now)!