A new approach to SERP ad layouts

Over the years we have adapted our search engine results page (SERP) to meet each user’s individual needs better and to provide a high-quality user experience. The layout of search ads takes into account each user’s needs, the given query and other competitors' ads. More relevant ads result in more efficient advertising, increased user satisfaction, and improved advertising performance with higher conversion rates and an increase in traffic.

We continually test various ad layouts and their placement on the SERP to achieve optimal results for both our users and advertisers. In the future, we plan to expand the variety of layouts. We will algorithmically select the best layout depending on a wide range of factors.

In addition to the changes in the SERP ad layouts, we will also make the auction process more transparent. In April, these changes will be reflected in both the Yandex Direct interface and API.

Additional relevant questions:

With so much variation in ad layouts, how do I know what I am paying for?

Increasing your conversion rates is not just a question of how high your ad appears in the search results — your ad can simply appear in a more noticeable format or in a block with fewer competitors’ ads.

In effect, the amount of traffic an ad attracts is not equal to its position in an ad block.

Which ad will users click on more? And how would this impact pricing in a scenario when two different ads both appear in the highest position available, but in different ad layouts?

Starting in April, prices in Yandex.Direct will no longer be calculated for entry positions, but for the additional predicted traffic volume a bid will get. This will give advertisers a clear idea of how much more traffic their ads can receive if they raise their bids.

Let’s say that a given keyword currently brings 150 clicks per day to your ad at a price of 14 rubles per click. The new bid management interface will show how your CPC changes if you want to double or triple your traffic.

We will continue to factor the quality of your ads and predicted CTR into the price calculations. The general concept remains the same as before — the better your ads, the less you will spend to reach your target audience.

The data sets that appear in the Direct API will look something like this:

There will also be a clear and easy way to set bids in the interface, but the general idea is the following: you will now see prices for specific traffic volumes instead of prices for specific ad positions. This will be easy to use and more transparent — this enables you to pay just for the traffic that you want.

The VCG auction will still be used for search ads. You will pay the minimal amount to appear ahead of the next bidder in the auction and thus receive additional clicks.

What if my search campaigns are focused on expanding my reach and brand awareness?

We know that there are advertisers who increase brand awareness by specifically focusing on impressions as opposed to search results. The new interface will indicate the cost to be placed at the top of organic search results to provide the maximum reach available.

What factors will determine how ads appear?

The process of determining an ad format depends on the search query and the user. Our algorithm automatically balances user satisfaction and ad performance. In other words, the new SERP layout should improve the user experience while also increasing traffic for an advertiser.

Several of these new ad layouts are already in use in premium placement. Depending on the user and query one to four ads may appear, along with options for expanded ads like these:

Over the next twelve months, we plan to test and introduce many new layouts for search ads. As we introduce new formats and elements (i.e, chats and images) we will share additional information about how to take advantage of these changes.

How can I manage impressions across these different SERP layouts?

The most important step is to ensure that you are using all available Yandex.Direct advertising elements in your ads to ensure that you can appear in as many ad layouts as possible: sitelinks and descriptions, callouts, vCards, high-quality images, and video backgrounds (available in the Ad Builder library).

Will you keep me updated about these coming changes?

Of course! To make sure you have enough time to prepare for any changes, we will communicate any new developments, enhancements to the API documentation, and updates to the interface in advance.

Please stay tuned.