As a digital marketing agency we are constantly monitoring SERPs for new trends and competitive advantages we can utilise. Although there has been sporadic speculation in recent times on signficant SERP changes from Google's side, it seems these may materialise sooner than later now. Over the last few weeks, we have observed likely Google UI testing in which Desktop right hand side ads have been removed wholly, in favour of four central, top of page ads, and two ads on the bottom of the first page.
Granted, this will have massive repercussions for search advertisers. Average CPCs will almost certainly inflate to vie for the top positions, as research has repeatedly shown that users overwhelmingly view, and interact with the top of the SERP, and neglect the bottom. One potential reason for limiting the amount of advertisers on the SERP might be that Google has determined the average CTR for the RHS ads is poor across verticals, and the expected CPC inflation from this major change is projected to more profitable in the long run, we suspect. Additionally, the impact on SEO cannot be understated, as with four ads on the top of page, the organic results will likely be pushed below the fold entirely. We will continue to observe these changes in the coming days/weeks.