Google Instant Search: What does this mean for advertisers?


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.

  • http://www.digitalvegetarian.com SEO Rockstar

    As The Speed Of The Net Increases,

    no longer will those types of issues be a factor…serving up many more results for each query. This was a really cool new innovation by Google. Best one in a long time. They are really working to speed up the Internet and this was a smart move in that direction.

  • http://www.google.com Eric Schmidt

    The age of augmented humanity is here. Enjoy!

  • http://365daysofcomics.com Dom

    I am not a big fan of Google’s little message with the Google Instant: “Feelings of euphoria and weightlessness are normal. Do not be alarmed.”

    Be more smug, Google. “Oh, look at us and are clever new thingy.” What is the income you have to maintain to be secure and modest?

    We get it. You made something new that will bug us for awhile until we are used to it. Now be the innovative company you are and move on.

  • Joe

    Awesome. Another attention deficit disorder catalyst. I was searching for “places to visit in… ” erR..

    After this article http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/08/ff_webrip/all/1, I’d make crazy updates to disqualify the web being dead!

  • http://johnvantine.com John

    Am I the only one that feels like they’re “late to the party” on things like this and the Google “balls” logo thing (from this past Tuesday) because they never actually go to google.com to perform a search? In Chrome, I just use the “unibar” to perform searches, and in Firefox, I use ctrl+k to shift focus to the search box. If no one blogged/tweeted about this update, I may not have found out about it for days… Which we all know is YEARS in internet time!

  • Gina

    So cute if you instant search monkeys!

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  • Sean

    I am not really sure how this is different than Bing’s instant search. As you are typing into Bing, it brings up relevant results as well. Ohh well ..

  • http://johnvantine.com John

    Regarding my comment from yesterday, it looks like I’m not the only one.

  • http://twitter.com/mblock Michael Block

    @Sean, I think you’re confusing auto-fill queries with auto-fill search results. Make sure you’re signed into your Google account and try searching in Google. You may not have seen the difference if you weren’t signed in.

    @John, I agree with you, there’s no party for you if you use Chrome, like me. However, I do often use the actual search results page quite often for my second search.

    @Everyone, I saw this list of now-hilarious search queries with Google instant and it’s pretty good!

  • http://www.creasecrisis.co.uk Alhad Google tellaister

    My concern is that there will be an awful lot more data flying across the ether as Google sends out what it thinks we want after every keystroke. Far from speeding up the web this is likely to bring it to its knees!

    I live in an area with only 1 Mb broadband and already I’ve had Google inform me the connection was too slow for instants and that I’d have to press ‘Enter’ as previously. I must say though, after being unsure if I liked the new facility, I sure missed it when it went missing.

    Finally, all those on limited data broadband contracts might find their allocation eaten up far more quickly than previously – and will all this data provision now force the providers to cap everybody’s allocation rather than offer unlimited downloads?

    It’s good, but I’m not sure the current infrastructure can support it.

  • http://johnvantine.com John

    Here’s some more good info regarding instant search & analytics, sponsored links, and more.

  • Lighthouse Boy

    Not a bad IDEA, but, poorly executed.
    As well as the limited broadband issue as outlined above, there is no way to tun th safe filter off (I agree it should be on as default, but, please give users the choice…).

    As far as speeding up searches – it won’t – in face, it will slow searches down.

    The reason for this is simple (and the main reason I have turned it off). Then you start typing, both the box you are typing into and the associated buttons MOVE.

    This is incredibly disorientating – whoever thought up the UI must hae ben drunk at th time.

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