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Google Cleans Up Search Results By Ditching Sidebar Ads (theverge.com) 105

Mark Wilson writes: Google generates a huge amount of revenue through advertising but it's not afraid to try mixing things up a little. Ads in search results have long-been controversial, but the latest change is likely to go down well with many people -- the ads that currently appear in the right-hand sidebar of search results are to be dropped.

The change means that ads will only be displayed above and below search results. There will be seven Google AdWords ads in total -- four above the search results and three below. The right-hand side of the page will be left free for Google's own Product Listing Ads. Google also confirmed that the change is global and affects all languages.

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Google Cleans Up Search Results By Ditching Sidebar Ads

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  • Confused (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 20, 2016 @05:32PM (#51549839)

    From a user's perspective, isn't the sidebar an ideal place for ads so they don't mix in with search results?

    • Re:Confused (Score:4, Insightful)

      by pushing-robot ( 1037830 ) on Saturday February 20, 2016 @05:36PM (#51549857)

      Yes, that's the problem.

      • > There will be seven Google AdWords ads in total -- four above the search results and three below.

        so now there will be 17 search results shown, ten of which are organic and seven of which are keyword-targeted ads. 59% signal to noise ratio, go google! keep up the stellar work! meanwhile i'll be at duckduckgo.com along with everybody else.

        • by MacTO ( 1161105 )

          While I do have duckduckgo setup as my default search engine, I find myself frequenting Google a lot. The quality of that 59% matters quite a bit.

          • While I do have duckduckgo setup as my default search engine, I find myself frequenting Google a lot. The quality of that 59% matters quite a bit.

            I love using DDG...until I need to sort my search results by date posted.

            *sigh*, okay Google, let's dance again...just this once, though, then I'm heading to the showers...

        • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

          This is a good thing, it makes it very easy to write a greasemonkey script to STRIP all the fucking "sponsored" search results.

    • Re:Confused (Score:5, Insightful)

      by WarJolt ( 990309 ) on Saturday February 20, 2016 @05:41PM (#51549871)

      so they don't mix in with search results?

      Exactly, they want to confuse you. Why would they do anything that would decrease ad revenue? It's probably easier to trick folks into clicking when they aren't aware of the ads.

      • by gnupun ( 752725 )

        That's like the yahoo! homepage that randomly mixes article headlines and ads. The ads have a light blue background color, but unless you correctly angle your screen, the background color looks white, like the article headline's background. Both headlines and ads have the same look and format.

        How the heck can companies get away with such blatant deception?

      • by BeauHD ( 4450103 ) Works for Slashdot
        Right, it's all about wording. Plus it goes without saying Google (or any company for that matter) wouldn't willingly remove a large source of their revenue stream. Simplifying or reshuffling their ad placement? Sure... why not?
    • by Alumoi ( 1321661 )

      There are ads on Google? Since when?
      Oh, you mean I have to disable ublock/noscript to see them?
      Sorry, Google, no can do.

    • by Mitreya ( 579078 )

      From a user's perspective, isn't the sidebar an ideal place for ads so they don't mix in with search results?

      No, research shows that users would prefer to see ads mixed in with links (link - ad - link - ad). It is even better if links jump around under your mouse or at least regularly obscured with a surprise overlay banner "subscribe here!".

      Users only liked unobtrusive ads in the 90s -- tastes have clearly changed.

    • and Overdrive ads.

    • Will they also be using a large green arrow so I can immediately get the software or movie I googled. Those are really helpful when they are mixed in with search results.

    • Yep the ads on the RHS have gone, I've noticed (over time) that the one or two ads (clearly marked as such) at the top of the list has now grown into a localised map with numbered pins identifying the locations of the businesses in the three or four ads below it. The adverts now take up so much screen estate that only the top two unpaid hits are visible at the bottom of my (large) monitor!
    • by dohzer ( 867770 )

      I'm not sure. I've never noticed the ads.
      Or am I not meant to tell the advertisers that?

    • Absolutely. It took me a while to get used to there being ads above the search results... Very frustrating, so much harder to distinguish commercial from organic results. No problem with the commercial results, I'll even click on them occasionally, but I do like to know beforehand how that result came there.

  • I think that the issue is that a lot of them were getting repetitive. I research a lot of products at work and regularly click on the ads in addition to the search results. The ads are usually pretty relevant and in some cases better than what the search terms are providing. But I was noticing that a single company's ads might be shown 2-4 times across all of the locations. I can see how that could cause issues.
  • "The right-hand side of the page will be left free for Google's own Product Listing Ads. "

    So the ads in the sidebar ... will be replaced by a different type of advert? That doesn't exactly sound like Google is ditching anything.
  • I remember at the very first of the year Google was trying something new. The number of advertisements before the search results had doubled. I was pretty pissed. Apparently so were a lot of other people and Google listened because I don't think it lasted more than a week. There are already posts below this that mention the sidebar is actually an ideal place for ads because there is no room for confusion, and that this might be the reason they are "dropping" them. After all, the ads must still be present so
    • by fermion ( 181285 )
      Not really, the implication is that they are trying to generate clicks by mixing ads and results. I suspect soon the ads, clearly marked, will be completely mixed in the results.

      The Google page has become messy and much less useful. Recall that one of Google innovations was a clear, transparent, and clean results page. It is now necessary to analyze the page pretty completely before understanding what is relevant.

      Also, less ads means that the advertisers have to bid higher amounts to get on the page.

      • by wjcofkc ( 964165 )
        I've actually been experimenting with alternate search engines. Although they are all based on google and or bing. Yahoo is not on my list at all. I am not sure what is behind webcrawler these days (yes, either still around or back). But they have a moderate button right next to search. They still have ads at the top, but the super simplicity of the layout makes clear what is what. The moderate link offers pretty slim options, but they are very sane options. If google has something similar, it is not front
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Google allows you to opt out of there targeted advertizing, they also allow you to delete your search history from their servers. whether that history is actually deleted or not I have no idea.

  • New owners: this sounds like a puff piece for Google, put in front of slashdot readers without explanation of why this is in fact better, just singing its praises. If you don't intend to run the site this way, now would be a *great* time to comment saying so. I'll take the absence of an authoritative response to mean you intended this or at least don't care.
    • It's news about the world's largest search engine significantly changing their ad layout. Not a puff piece or a takedown. It's news. I'm looking at the new SERPs right now and it does look a lot cleaner. That is my opinion.
    • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Saturday February 20, 2016 @06:32PM (#51550101)

      Here's the problem.

      If Slashdot ownership decides to keep posting submitted stories as-is, some people are going to complain about perceived biases in the stories.

      If Slashdot ownership chooses to have their editors rewrite the submissions before they're posted, some people will start complaining that Slashdot is controlling the news and attempting to put its own spin on everything. ... and I expect the Venn Diagram of the two groups would mostly overlap.

      • You know what you're talking about. Thank you.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        As long as there's a link to the original submission, the editors can rewrite it as they please (and be called out on bias).
        Best of both worlds.

      • I'd be ok with the editors reworking the submissions, but what I'm asking for in this case is for the editors to simply have passed over this submission, filtered it out. And filtering is something the editors do as a matter of course, and there's really no escaping the fact that editor bias will thusly shape what appears on the site. The art of being a good editor is therefor not to try not to filter (that's impossible), but to filter in such a way that *good* submissions get through, while keeping out s
  • by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Saturday February 20, 2016 @06:20PM (#51550061) Homepage Journal
    I've never seen any ads on Google. The right hand side is completely blank. Are there people that don't run adblockers in 2016?
    • Call me crazy but Google is one of the few white-listed in ABP.

      Their ads are often useful when I'm searching for commercial offerings - when I specifically want to buy something. The regular search results give the product info, the ads give great starting points to buy.

      Also they're not intrusive and easy to filter out - though that's getting harder and harder with first the appearance of ads above and below the search results, and now the disappearance of the side bar altogether. Google is at risk here of

    • completely blank? that means your adblocker is broken and kills rhs_block altogether

      google movie/car/game etc and rhs_block will fill up with most relevant info

  • So anybody have any before vs after pics?

    In particular, I'm wondering if we're going from 1-2 in-line ads and 1-2 sidebar ads to 3-7 in-line ads. (In other words, is this "cleaning" just an excuse to put more ads in-line with the search results? Let's not forget this is Google, who won market-share in part by way of putting ads on a noticeable yellow background. Anybody noticed the background colour for ads these days? :)
    • Re:Before vs after (Score:4, Informative)

      by whipslash ( 4433507 ) Works for Slashdot on Saturday February 20, 2016 @06:45PM (#51550141) Homepage Journal
      Here's an after photo: http://www.thesempost.com/wp-c... [thesempost.com] (this one shows Google product listings in the right sidebar.) If it doesn't surface a product listing then the right sidebar is blank. The before only had 3 search ads on top, and then more in the sidebar.
      • Altavista tried this approach before Google ate their lunch.

        When people are searching for something they want results, not ads. The ads drive revenue but the revenue comes from having users to begin with.

      • Which also reminds me that the best ads are the ones where the website deals with the business direct instead of using some ad middleman. That's how Slashdot used to be able to pay for itself IIRC. We had ThinkGeek and even Microsoft and Oracle ads. Blech. But at least those ads were specific to this target audience.

      • Thanks for the link!

        Since I have your attention now, this might be a good place to post this request. I'd love to have the option of opening links in discussions in a new tab.

        I just wanted to see what the new lay-out was and continue with reading the rest of the thread. Now I accidentally forgot to "open in new tab", saw the picture and had to use the "Back" button in the browser. Losing the position in the discussion in the process.

        Links in the comment part of an article are almost always something you wou

        • Yeah we will make the default open a new tab instead of load in the main one. Until then, I'd just CTRL + click
  • It's been tough to push myself away from Google, to using (hopefully) less evil and intrusive alternatives like DuckDuckGo and Ixquick. But moves like this will really help me kick the Google habit. Thanks a lot, Google!
  • Guess I've used adblockers for so long, I've never noticed any.
  • ...to head off those court cases where various people and countries suspect that Google is giving its own products "undue prominence" in search results - by putting their own products in a separate column to the right (and perhaps then dialing down alleged prominence algorithm) they're now no longer in violation of anything

  • by fulldecent ( 598482 ) on Saturday February 20, 2016 @07:30PM (#51550275) Homepage

    I run a website, it is called acls.net. Lots of people compete with us.

    Sometimes we will get a customer on the phone that got our phone number from a friend and they want to login and buy our course. I tell them to type acls.net into the address bar. Just explaining where the address bar was hard enough. One older gentleman finally types it in and guess what... he lands on our competitor's website!

    So then we go through this again. Type it in... hit enter... and then same result. So what happened is this guy is getting to the Google search results page and our competitor created an ad with the headline "acls.net". Luckily I figured this out, then just told him to click on acls.net that is green.

    Turns out this guy is color blind. After 15-minutes of him patiently and whole-heartedly working with me, I could not get him to navigate to our 8-character URL website. I printed out the page and mailed it to him, and he mailed me a check for about $500 to sign up.

    This is a real story, honest. Now think about how much money my competitors want to pay Google to make sure the customer that DIDN'T call me ends up on their site...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      OK, so there's an issue about ads getting embedded in search results, but, I see what you did there - embedding an ad in your comment. Perhaps that kind of sneaky embedding is why a search for acls.net has a "Fraud Warning - American Heart Association" show up so prominently just below your website. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/... [heart.org]

      • by Anonymous Coward

        ...and I clicked through on all the ads that show up, just to cost them a little money. You're welcome. Sometimes, when think about ambulance-chasing attorneys, I type mesothelioma into the search bar and click on the ads. [Full disclosure: I own some GOOG and GOOGL]

      • The product on our website is for doctors and I seriously doubt Slashdotters want to buy it. You can check my posting history, I rarely talk about work or promote anything other than my open source projects.

        I am glad you're engaged to check that out. Yes, this industry (any competitive industry) has lots of scams. And I provided that link so you can see the kind of shady shit that's going on. Of course, Google encourages all this and they make lots of money from this exact situation. As to why my company is

    • FYI, ctrl-l is the shortcut to select the URL bar in all the major browsers. That's a good way to insure you're not typing in some search engine's form.

      If he was in fact typing in the URL bar and getting a search engine result, it sounds like he had some malware installed on his browser which redirected all URLs and searches to their own website.
      • FYI, ctrl-l is the shortcut to select the URL bar in all the major browsers.

        Damn you, sans serif!

        I was going to say that ctrl-i does nothing in my browser, and I was halfway through writing my reply before I twigged you might be talking about lowercase L instead.

  • Now if they'll ditch that useless, waste-of-space left sidebar containing that "Anytime" crap, then allow us to disable suggestions, and auto complete and ... just about everything that doesn't work w/o Javascript then the various Google pages may be usable w/o me having to use NoScript, and HTTP (through Proxomitron) to make it simply palatable. Seriously, having it shuffle words with every character typed is so fucking annoying (and a waste of bandwidth) - their keystroke analysis be damned.

    All I want

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Go into your Google account > Personal Info > Search settings

  • #rhs_block, #tvcap, #taw, #tads, #bottomads, td.Bu.y3, div.nH.adC, div.nH.PS, .action-menu, .clickable-dropdown-arrow {display:none !important;}

  • The right-hand side of the page will be left free for Google's own Product Listing Ads.

    So they are not ditching ads on the side of the page at all, like the summary claims. Plus, it's Google. They'll likely change their mind in about a week and ditch the search results in the middle, leaving the entire page for Google+, soon to be replaced by Google++.

  • A page with video advertising may cause one to waste gigabytes of data! 1. When an advertisement is playing on a page it draws data from some source. The advertisement may be visible or not. If it's not visible what is the benefit to the viewer? NOTHING! So stop any and all video advertising that is not in the visible page. 2. When one is viewing a page with video advertising and one is drawn away from that screen for whatever purpose, the bytes are continuously downloaded to run the video, whether the pers
  • Google worries about ad blockers - then turns off all bar the most obtrusive positioning of their ads.

    Google search ads were occasionally useful. Useful enough for me to want to keep them there. I actually clicked on them when looking for stuff to buy. But then they moved them to the top, then altered the colours so they were barely distinguishable from real search results. That was when I turned on ad blocking for their search page. I guess I could have just blocked the ads at the top and been happy,

  • When there's StartPage DuckDuckGo? Why though?

  • Never saw them???

    In fact I can't see any ads anywhere. Is my internet broken?

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