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Stop Worrying About Ad Position — So Says Google Expert

August 18, 2009

There are certain times in life where position is everything. Making sure you’re in the front of a buffet line, so your food is warm. Making sure you’re in a lane by yourself at a stoplight so you can burn off the line faster than anyone else. Up until now I’d venture to guess you thought your ad positions for Google Adsense made a difference to. According to Google’s Chief Economist, Hal Varian, you couldn’t be more wrong.

Varian led a research initiative to figure out if ad positions were a direct correlation to conversions. In a nutshell, ‘no they didn’t have an effect’. If you require a more beefy answer, here’s Varian’s take on the matter,

“Since Google ranks ads by bid times ad quality, ads in higher positions tend to have higher quality and higher quality ads tend to have higher conversion rates,” says Varian. “Thus you may see a correlation between auction position and conversion rates just due to this ad quality effect. However, the real question is how the conversion rate for the same ad would change if it were displayed in a different position.”

and of course he has an answer,

“We have used a statistical model to account for these effects and found that, on average, there is very little variation in conversion rates by position for the same ad,” continues Varian. “For example, for pages where 11 ads are shown the conversion rate varies by less than 5% across positions. In other words, an ad that had a 1.0% conversion rate in the best position, would have about a 0.95% conversion rate in the worst position, on average. Ads above the search results have a conversion rate within ±2% of right-hand side positions.”

So there you have it. No longer should you be worried about the ‘placement’ of your ad, but the quality of it.

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