Google Instant Search: What does this mean for advertisers?

 September 8, 2010
written by:Michael Block
Google has supercharged it's speed from fast to "Bolt!"
Google has supercharged it's speed from fast to "Bolt!"

Today, Google released Google Instant Search, a product that displays search results on the fly. If you’ve been to Google.com today, you may have already watched as the search results magically appeared beneath your search as you were typing. This is a big step for search–probably the biggest since Bing entered the fray–even if it doesn’t seem like such a big deal on the surface.

What’s truly amazing is that, somehow, Google has managed to show many more search results per search query than before with seemingly no negative effect on the speed of delivery. I’m pretty sure that a time machine has to be involved because I can’t wrap my head around the kind of technology that would be necessary for this to make sense.

That notwithstanding, this video gives a nice overview of the product:

According to Google’s Vice President of Search Product and User Experience, Marissa Mayer (via CNN Money), Google Instant Search will save 2-5 seconds per search, 1,000 man-years of time every week or 11 man-hours of time every second. Those are some pretty incredible figures!

So, how will this affect the ads that display on Google? What does this mean for Wpromote’s clients? Well, the jury is still out; even Google doesn’t claim to know what the effects will be. On the AdWords blog, Google writes:

It’s possible that this feature may increase or decrease your overall impression levels. However, Google Instant may ultimately improve the quality of your clicks since it helps users type queries that more directly connect them with the answers they need.

The first thing that popped into my head is that this will have a big effect on the performance of long-tail keywords. Think about a long-tail keywords for a retailer like “nike air jordan sneakers.” A user might find that as soon as they’ve typed “nik” that the results being displayed are already satisfying. That could mean that users will enter that particular long-tail search less often. Of course, if a user finds that the results do not meet his needs, he may continue to type out a long-tail search query in hopes that the dynamic results below will conform to his particular needs, even if he wasn’t planning on typing a long-tail search query in the first place!

Speculation is difficult with a product this revolutionary, so it’s probably best to sit back and adapt to the inevitable behavioral changes as they arrive. One thing is certain, though, for as intriguing as this development is for Google users, it’s probably a lot more intriguing for those fickle search users who may have recently switched over to Bing or Yahoo (now powered by “Bing”) in the last few months. Microsoft has been dumping tens, perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars into its ad campaigns for Bing, however, all the marketing in the world can only do so much against a firmly superior product.

The question remains, though: is Google Instant Search actually superior? You be the judge!

Thanks to Jeff Collins, Joe Nguyen and Christian Vuong for helping me with resources.

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