The Value of Being the First Ad Displayed by Google

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by Ayaz Nanji

The first ad displayed by Google on a search results page has become even more valuable with the rise of mobile searches, according to a recent report from Marin Software.

A significantly larger share of traffic goes to the first advertisement displayed in search results on smartphones and tablets compared with desktops, found the report, which was based on data from Marin clients in the United States.

On average, 39% of clicks go to the first ad Google displays on smartphones and 36% go to the first ad on tablets, compares with 30% of clicks that go to the first ad on desktops.

A significantly higher click rate on the first ad displayed is not especially surprising for smartphone searches, where Google often will only show one ad at the top of a page, but it is somewhat unexpected for tablets, where results pages have the same format as desktops.

Click-through rates (CTRs) also highlight the importance of being the first ad displayed by Google; the average CTR for the first ad is significantly higher on smartphones (4.9%) and tablets (4.3%) than on desktops.

Moreover, ranking second or below is much less valuable on smartphones because the average CTR drops off more rapidly than on either desktops or tablets—an average of 30% per position on phones, versus 22% and 28% for desktops and tablets, respectively.