How Google Search Generative Experience is impacting ads

The impact of Google’s Search Generative Experience on ads within Google’s SERPs has been explored in a new study.

Research conduct by SEO platform SE Ranking found that:

  • Regardless of SGE snippet presence, ads appear more often at the bottom of search results.
  • Ads at the top of the SERP accompany SGE snippets more often than shopping ads (carousels).
  • Shopping ads (carousels) usually appear above the SGE snippet.
  • Niches like Fashion and Beauty, and Ecommerce and Retail, are more likely to feature shopping ads.

Why we care. Understanding the impact SGE has on ads in Google SERPs is crucial for businesses and marketers so that they can make data-led decisions for more effective marketing.

The study. SE Ranking examined 100,000 keywords across 20 niches, each with different search intents and volumes. The analysis provided insights into how often Google offers AI-generated responses, the length of content in the Search Generative Experience (SGE), linking patterns, variations across niches, and ad placement.

The findings. When SGE snippets with text were present (18,455), the study found:

  • Ads appeared at the top 4,280 times (23.19%).
  • Ads appeared at the bottom 6,499 times (35.21%).
  • Shopping ads appeared in the form of carousels (as shown in the screenshot below) 2,660 times (14.41%).
  • This means that in 5,016 instances (27.17%), no ad accompanied the SGE snippets with text.
SE Ranking SGE Study

Ad type. The study also looked at different ad types combined with text-based SGE snippets. Researchers found:

  • Both shopping ads and ads at the top of the SERP accompanied SGE responses in 1,018 cases. 
  • Shopping ads appeared alongside text-based SGE snippets in 2,660 cases.
  • In 3,262 cases, only ads at the top of the SERP appeared alongside text-based SGE snippets.

Carousel shopping ads. Carousel shopping ads can be positioned above, below, or in the sidebar of the SGE snippet.

Ad placement. The study also looked into the most popular location for shopping ads in the SGE SERP. he data suggests a clear preference for having shopping ads above the SGE snippet:

  • Shopping ads appeared above the SGE snippet 2,969 times (80.72%). 
  • In 502 cases (13.65%), shopping ads were placed below the SGE snippet. 
  • Shopping ads appeared in the sidebar 207 times (5.63%), making this placement the least common.

What SE Ranking is saying. An SE Ranking spokesperson said in a statement:

  • “The main takeaway here is that we really need to stay on top of things. Changes seem to be happening practically every day.”
  • “This becomes extra clear when we compare these results to a previous study we did. When we ran our first round of SGE research back in late 2023, the results showed that only about 4% of keywords failed to trigger an SGE snippet. This time,  12.3% of keywords did not trigger an SGE response.”
  • “While this study has shed some light on Google’s AI-powered responses, much remains uncertain. We’ll be keeping a close eye on SGE’s latest developments and do more research to stay up-to-date.” 

What Google is saying. Philipp Schindler, SVP and CBO, Google, said during Alphabet’s 2023 Q4 earnings call:

  • “As we shared last quarter, Ads will continue to play an important role in the new Search experience, and we’ll continue to experiment with new formats native to SGE.”
  • “SGE is creating new opportunities for us to improve commercial journeys for people by showing relevant ads alongside search results.”
  • “We’ve also found that people are finding ads either above or below the AI-powered overview helpful, as they provide useful options for people to take action and connect with businesses.”

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Deep dive. Read the SE Ranking report in full for more information.

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