Google’s Search Generative Experience is reshaping ad placement on search results pages

The news: Shopping ads appear above Google's Search Generative Experience (SGE) snippets over 80% of the time, according to a new study by SEO platform SE Ranking.

  • The study, which examined 100,000 keywords across 20 distinct niches, looked at the placement of ads within search engine results pages (SERPs) now that SGE is a core component of those pages.
  • SE Ranking's analysis revealed key insights: Ads commonly appear at the bottom, regardless of whether SGE snippets are present.
  • In the study of 18,455 SGE text snippets, ads were most often at the bottom (35.21%), followed by the top (23.19%). Shopping carousel ads were present 14.4% of the time; in 27.2% of instances, no ads accompanied the SGE snippet.
  • In the majority of cases, shopping ads were placed above the SGE snippet (80.72%), while placements below and in the sidebar were less common, at 13.65% and 5.63%, respectively.

Why it matters: The significance of this study cannot be overstated for businesses and marketers alike.

  • In an era where digital marketing strategies are paramount, understanding the nuances of ad placements in relation to AI-generated content is crucial. SE Ranking's findings offer insights into the most effective positioning for ads, shedding light on how to capitalize on AI-generated responses to enhance marketing outcomes.
  • Especially for sectors such as Fashion and Beauty and Ecommerce and Retail—where shopping ads are prevalent—this knowledge enables data-driven decision-making for improved marketing efficiency.
  • This research underlines the dynamic nature of Google's SERPs and the importance of staying abreast of these changes for marketers. For example, in a late 2023 study, only 4% of keywords didn't trigger an SGE snippet; in the current study, 12.3% didn’t elicit an SGE response. This suggests an evolving landscape that requires continuous observation and adaptation.

Our take: If executed properly, SGE has the potential to not only enhance the way users interact with search results but also how they encounter and engage with ads.

In addition to fending off new search competitors like OpenAI, Google is walking the tightrope of maintaining ad relevance while monetizing SERPs better than before the explosion of generative AI. That’s certainly a tall order.

"Behind the Numbers" Podcast