Originally at https://searchenginewatch.com/2016/02/08/bidding-for-top-position-on-a-serp-what-does-it-get-you/

Automatic bidding algorithms have been a part of paid search tool sets for a long time and artificial intelligence is gaining more and more traction every day. 

While I think this is a tidal wave of information and computing power that’s coming towards every industry, I also think that there are very important strategic decisions that will always be in the hands of the search marketer.

One of those most often debated is the value of a top position. Many find themselves bidding to a top position simply because it feels like winning (which is a fantastic reason why removing human emotions in marketing decisions could be a great thing – score one for AI).

It is innately good to see your brand at the top of a search page, but I wanted to take a look at the difference between the top and side position. How does the rank of your ad impact its results? Does it differ on Google vs. their search partners? The findings were very interesting.

Top vs. Side

I started looking at data across the last 13 months across all verticals and terms. There is a point to be made about excluding branded terms, but for now I included them simply because they often will be displayed as a side ad even if they are the only ad in the auction.

This data can be pulled from Google using the Top vs. Other segment where you can pull this data for specific levels of your own accounts and brands.

The differences when combining all search traffic (Google + Partners) makes a very compelling case for top placements.

ads top vs side ctr

Not only does the user click-through on top ads at 10% (compared to 0.5% for the side), but the conversion rate is almost twice as high and the cost-per-click is significantly less. What could be better than that?

Another way to look at it …

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