How Important is it to be the First Ad on Google

Everyone likes finishing first, but just how important is it to be the first ad on Google? In the dog-eat-dog world of AdWords, it appears that being the first across the line can make a terrifying difference.

A new study by Marin Software suggests that our increasingly on-the-go lives continue to dictate how we search for, consume and interact with information. And with this, what we are most responsive too.

Key Statistics

It’s nothing new for us to hear that the majority of searchers clicking on ads choose the first one they see. Marin have this figure at around 30% when viewed on a desktop. What’s interesting here is that when searching on a tablet, the click-through share of the first ads leaps up to 36%. Then up again to 39% when using a smartphone. This suggests that perhaps it’s even more important to give your paid search that push to get it up into that first position.

The report also highlights the click-through rate (not just the share of the clicks) that the ad positions attracted. The same curve can be drawn across all three platforms as I’m sure you’d expect. However, the severity changes dramatically on mobile devices. A number one position ad on a desktop gets a CTR of 3.2%, with second and third positions earning 1.9% and 1.5% respectively. For tablets, the top three places get CTRs of 4.3%, 2.0% and 1.6%. There’s a noticeably steeper drop off there already, but this increases when using a smartphone. First position there scores a 4.9% CTR, whilst second can only manage 2.2%. Huge differences.

Understanding CTR

The drop offs in CTR associated with ad views on mobile devices looks to be enforcing harsher penalties and those who aren’t at the top spot. We think one of the reasons for this is quite simply real estate on a smaller screen. Typically, your mobile device user is someone on-the-move, looking for answers to their queries as quickly as they can come across them. The smaller screen and reduced propensity to scour, search and scroll the web likely results in users settling for the first ad they see. Couple this with the fact that the majority of internet searches perceive top listings as market leaders and you’ve got a potent potion of unlimited click-through power.

It’s important to note that these figures were compiled by Marin Software and are based off data collected from Marin clients in the US. Certainly worth thinking about when you’re next getting your hands dirty with some PPC management, though!