Google change the meaning of “Top Ads”

What is Top Ads in world of Google? well it’s changed. Today Ginny Martin, Ads Product Liaison at Google shared a subtle but potential significant change of definition of Top Ads. If your deep in the detail of paid search campaigns on Google this is the kind of tweak that’s easy to miss.

Now Google’s documentation reads;

Top ads are adjacent to the top organic search results. Top ads are generally above the top organic results, although top ads may show below the top organic results on certain queries. Placement of top ads is dynamic and may change based on the user’s search.

Google’s official documentation

Ginny clarified on LinkedIn that this is a definitional change (as ads can appear above the organic result or below for certain queries) and doesn’t affect how performance metrics are calculated. And that the definition update clarifies that top ads may show below the organic results for certain queries. Although, for most queries, ads will continue to appear at the top of search results.

Why make the change? Anthony Higman suggested it might be due to the change in how some ads are being presented like in the screenshot below and the general shift towards more SGE on the SERPs and the consequences that change in user experience might have on ad placement. And does seem part of increased amount of experimentation on where ads appear on search engine results pages.

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