Monday, September 13, 2010

Google's new "Instant Search" may have major effects for advertisers

Meet the new Google search. Typing out the full search query and hitting "enter" are things of the past. While it may not sound like a very exciting change, Google Instant is actually the largest change to the search giant in over a decade, and with it may come major changes for search engine marketers. On the new Google Instant, "search results and suggestions continually update as Google attempts to predict queries from the very first character entered in the search box. This is a major change in search technology and Google predicts this will save users more than 350 million hours a year, or two to five seconds per search, on average."

Now that you have the basics- CLICK HERE to jump over to Google, and complete a basic search before you read on.

So... did you stop to look at the screen, take a sip of your coffee, or sneeze while you were typing? My guess is you did, and if your brief pause was 3 seconds or longer, each of the paid listings on the top and right hand side of the page were considered, by Google's standards, impressions to the advertisers serving those ads.

Why this is bad: Increase in impressions = lower click through rate = negative impact on historical calculation of quality score = increase in the associated cost-per-click = higher costs without a higher return.
  • In essence, there will be more total searches compiled. Many of our clients will have to pay more to compete in the search space, especially when bidding on more higher traffic keywords.
With Google Instant only a week or two old, we are forced to anticipate the impact of the engine's change and adjust our strategy accordingly. Stronger calls to action and page titles will be extremely important as there will be a much shorter time for searchers to view and interact with the results page.

Thought and resources:
  • Putting paid search aside- Is the increase in brand exposure a good thing, even if for a second while the query is being typed?
  • With this release, don't be surprised if Google AdWords give us an "average exposure time" metric.