Skip to main content

The State of Paid Search in 2016

Craig Paddock

In the ever-evolving world of search, relevance has always been, and continues to be, king. Google constantly rolls out new features, tweaks formats, and pushes importance of device and behavior in order for the searcher to be presented with the best information possible, both in organic results and paid search ads. Here we are highlighting the biggest changes in the first half of 2016 that look to have a huge impact on search results going forward.


AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages announced to improve mobile web performance)

With the increase of mobile users, Google has teamed up with other industry leaders on the Accelerated Mobile Pages Project (AMP), an “open source initiative to make the mobile web as fast as possible.”

AMP example

AMP will not only show up more prominently in mobile results, those pages will load an average 4 times faster while using 10 times less data than similar pages that are not a part of AMP.

“Google Destinations” for DMOs

As previously reported on this blog, Google announced that their hotel and flight tools are now being integrated into a vacation/destination planning tool: “Destinations on Google.”

Google destinations

This tool will show estimated trip costs according to date, the best times to visit, when to find lowest fares and even when to avoid inclement weather. As of now, though, Google Destinations is only available for mobile browsing and their Google app.

Through Google Destinations, you can virtually tour their 201 destinations with prices specific to your search criteria (number of days, people, etc.)

Though this is helpful essentially making users their own travel agent, this can ultimately steal many views and clicks from CVB or DMO websites on mobile devices.

The removal of sidebar ads

In an attempt to make the search experience much more streamlined and consistent between desktop, mobile, and tablets, Google has done away with desktop sidebar ads and added an extra ad to both the top and bottom page results (where applicable). This integration of ads to the top and bottom of a search page mirrors a user’s experience on mobile, which is a constantly growing force for users in their daily lives.

Google results when sidebar ads were shown:

london hotel before

Current search results without sidebar ads:

london hotel after

Paid search ads, Google’s bottom line, and the search experience as a whole, benefit greatly from this. With an extra ad at the top of page results, and increased realty with that placement, an ad has a better chance of standing out than if it had been placed as a sidebar ad.

With this dominance of above the fold placement, organic listing’s placement higher in the first page results becomes even more integral.

Double Headlines and Expanded Description Lines

In order to better take advantage of space in mobile and desktop search results, Google is rolling out both a double-headline and single-description line format. Ads will change drastically. Changing from a 25-character limit headline and two 35-character limit descriptions lines, we will now see ads expand to two 30-character limit headlines and one 80-character limit description line.

Ads will go from showing like this:

headline before

To this:

headline after

Headlines can now be 140% larger with the single description line possibly 14.3% larger. Some reports show a potential 20% in CTR due to double headlines. This increased CTR will be at the expense again of organic traffic.

This format change is just another way for the user experience to be more seamless. These changes will roll out in July. By September, the old ad format should be phased out.

Local Search Ads Appear Within Google Maps

Search ads can not appear on desktop and mobile versions of Google Maps. In the desktop version, results can show beneath the search box and on that map. When showing up on the map, they will show up with the business name and an icon marker. When clicking the icon marker, an ad will expand to show the business’ details. With mobile searches and results, ads are able to appear as a listed result below the search bar and map. The ad can also contain a click to call and directions button.

For this to take effect in accounts, location extensions must be enabled, the Google My Business page must be updated and accurate, set target bids by location and use relevant keywords to your location and what searchers are looking for.


Just like Google, Bing is constantly tweaking their formats and product. Major up and coming things for Bing include:

Extended headlines

Similarly identical to Google, BingAds is now testing double-headlines and expanded description line.

Shared budgets

Again, like in Google, there is an opportunity for a single budget to be distributed across all campaigns in an account or campaigns that are grouped together. This reduces time necessary for manually checking and allocating a large budget throughout campaigns in an account. With Bing shared budgets, any leftover amount will be optimized and allocated to campaigns that are performing well.

To learn more about MMGY's paid search capabilities, visit our Media page

White Paper Download
Looking For Industry Insights?

White Paper Download

Learn more about our consumer insights & research capabilities.

Request Now
Want to Work with Us?
Want to Work with Us?

Let's Talk

We would love to hear from you.

Contact Us
Looking For Industry Insights?
Looking For Industry Insights?

Industry Insights

We're sharing our travel knowledge via email. Join us.

Sign Up