Posted August 19, 2009 12:28 pm by with 9 comments

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Believe it or not, google-2Google has come out with new data to indicate that ad position doesn’t affect conversation rates for a single ad. Google’s Chief Economist, Hal Varian, posted his team’s research at the Inside AdWords blog.

While there are several caveats (such as the fact that they had to rely on average position, instead of examining each position in each auction each ad is a part of), the results are interesting:

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. 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 what does that mean? It means it’s even more important to get your ad copy right—and maybe a little less important than we thought to have the highest position (by virtue of bid and quality score).

However, it’s important to note that this data is about conversion rate. Lower-positioned ads typically see fewer clicks, and fewer conversions. The rate may be the same overall, but an ad with a higher position will get more clicks and more conversions, even if the same percentage is converting.

What do you think? Have you seen better conversion rates from keywords you have a top position for, or is your conversion rate fairly steady for a single ad?


  • Pingback: Google: Ad Position Doesn’t Affect Conversion — Your Search Advisor, LLC()

  • Surely I’m not the only one that has seen evidence to the contrary? In my experience, higher Average Positions (within the right column of Sponsored Results) usually have lower conversion rates because they attract more “window shoppers” that are just browsing.

    It varies by industry and by website type (e-commerce, informational, etc.) but I have a hard time believing the Google data is universally accurate.

    The bottom line is, test this hypothesis to get your own results using the “Position Preference” feature in AdWords campaign settings. Your mileage may vary, so find the Average Positions that are most effective and efficient for your business without trusting the fox that happens to be guarding the henhouse 😉
    .-= Andrew Miller´s last blog ..Google: Ad Position Doesn’t Affect Conversion =-.

  • This just reinforces what the priority is…creating an ad with the right content/look to attract your target audience. The location doesn’t really matter…online.
    .-= Jack´s last blog ..Conversion Rates and Ad Position =-.

  • This is bunk. Position of your ad is VERY much part of why you are clicked or not. Anyone spending money on adwords knows that. Anyone with positions in the top 3 organically versus positions in 3-9 know that.

    They just want you to happily buy those keywords regardless of your position.
    .-= Jaan Kanellis´s last blog ..Bing Shows You Who Is On Your Shared IP =-.

  • Jaan—It’s not about whether or not you get clicks, it’s about whether or not people actually buy. According to this, although more people click on higher positioned ads, the same percentage of people are buying. Obviously higher positioned ads get more raw clicks and raw conversions—but, as Andrew says, they’re also getting more curiosity clicks, which pushes down their conversion rate (in his experience, even lower than lower positioned ads).

  • Jordan no way position 8 gets as many sales as position 2. Sure conversion rates will differ, but to put out a study basically saying your position on the first page doesnt matter for traffic or more importantly sales is truly bunk.
    .-= Jaan Kanellis´s last blog ..Bing Shows You Who Is On Your Shared IP =-.

  • That’s not what it says. It’s not saying the number of sales is even comparable. It’s not saying the traffic is comparable.

    It’s saying that when the same ad appears high in the rankings, it converts the same percentage of clicks to sales as when it appears low in the rankings in a different search.

    Let’s say this awesome ad in position one gets 10,000 clicks and 300 buyers—3% conversion rate.

    On another search, this same ad is down in position ten. Let’s say they get 100 clicks down there. They only need 3 buyers to get the same 3% conversion rate.

    We’ve seen studies that point to a fairly standard conversion rate across the web by industry/vertical for years.

  • I know Jordan so depending on the business you want to sell your product 3000 times or 300 times???
    .-= Jaan Kanellis´s last blog ..Bing Shows You Who Is On Your Shared IP =-.

  • @Jordan – I couldn’t have summed it up better myself.

    @Jaan – Would I rather sell 3,000 or 300 units? It depends on the profit margin. High CPC’s for the #1 ad slot can actually make it UNprofitable to sell via PPC. However, if I can make higher profits by spending less per click, I might actually make MORE money (profit) by only selling 300 units.
    .-= Andrew Miller´s last blog ..Google: Ad Position Doesn’t Affect Conversion =-.