Google is never short on AdWords experiments, running numerous format and placement experiments of varying sizes at any given time. One recent experiment includes an extra line in the search ad: "X clicks for this advertiser."
Google's Click Count Experiment
There aren't a lot of solid details; while the experiment was spotted by multiple parties and officially confirmed by a Google spokesperson, the extent of the known data is what you can see on your screen:
Highlights added. Image courtesy of Vinny O'Hare.
This is just one of a few experiments being tried. Other formats reported include a shorter version that gave only the number of clicks (formatted as "X clicks").
Here are a few of the remaining questions for Google:
- Are advertisers volunteering for this program, or are the ads just getting the extra line?
- Is there a threshold on the minimum number of clicks before this line is displayed?
- What factors determine if this format will be used?
- Does it seem to be impacting CTR, for better or worse?
- How is the number of clicks calculated? Total for the campaign, total for the ad, total for the advertiser over their account history, or something else entirely?
I've contacted Google to see if I can get those answers, or at least some more information, but haven't received word yet. I'll update here once more data becomes available.
Google's Constant Ad Experiments
Those paying attention to the industry know that Google runs experiments frequently, often running them – without the advertiser being aware – on a very small scale. If the format, placement, or other element seems to be helpful to advertisers or users, the experiment expands and can eventually become the status quo.
Other recent Google experiments have caused far more controversy. A display network format based on CPL (cost per lead) even led to accusations that Google was giving the Obama re-election campaign unfair access to experimental new formats. Google denied those claims, stating that no CPL ad packages had been sold to any political group.
The "X clicks" format is a somewhat less exciting format, but one that's more likely to impact the average advertiser. If the number of clicks ends up giving a positive CTR impact, top-heavy investment, larger campaigns, and long-term advertising will become factors in the success of individual ads.