Does Google’s search results page feel a little more crowded to you? The ads which used to run down along the right-hand edge of the page are now shifted over to the left, as if to declare, “Hey, look at us!” Maybe this will increase the number of times ads are clicked on. They are certainly more noticeable.
The ads now seem like they are now grouped together with the organic results, whereas before they were shunted off to the side (a legacy of the early days of Google when the purity of organic results was protected as much as possible from being sullied by dirty ads). In fact, on my screen the ads take center stage, with a thin line down the middle forming the slimmest barrier separating them from the natural results. I wonder if this design change has something to do with the popularity of wider screens. But the line and central placement of the ads also conveniently draw the eye.
Is that what is most important now to Google? Don’t bother your mind with such silly questions. Google needs more clicks, and it shall have them.
Update A Google spokesperson confirms that it is always “experimenting with new visual representations” and that it “shifted the ads to the left on the page as a way to help users find what they are looking for on the Internet.” See, it’s for your own good. You were looking for the ads the whole time.