How Google Instant’s Predictive Search Affects Small Business PPC Campaigns

8 09 2010

Today, Google revealed the newest addition to its long line of innovations– Google Instant.  In an industry well known for its constantly changing nature, Google has once again begun to shape the search world, this time in the way paid search impressions are quantified and viewed.  With instant search enabled, Google now predicts what its algorithm (based on popular queries performed by other users) believes your search query will be, and in turn displays ads for each predicted query as a user types.  According to Google, instant search saves the average user two to five seconds per search; which accounts for an aggregate total of 11 hours saved for all Google users with every second that goes by.  Quite intriguing.

Aside from predicting search queries and saving time, Google Instant also generates ads and results relevant to the predicted search query (see figure 1 below).  This does not, however, change the way ads are served.  As Google predicts the users query, ads corresponding to that query will be shown in sequence.

  1. For example, as shown in the figure below, as I begin typing “res” (looking for restaurants in the Portland area), Google first shows PPC ads relating to its prediction that I’m searching for “resume” help.
  2. By going one step further with my query, as I type in my fourth letter “t”, Google now predicts that I’m searching for “Restoration Hardware” and re-populates the ads it has served accordingly.
  3. Finally, as I type in my fifth letter “a”, I get ads relevant to restaurants in Portland.  Pretty neat.

Figure 1: Google Instant Search

Google Instant Search

As stated by Google, impressions will be qualified based on the following criteria:

  • The user begins to type a query on Google and clicks anywhere on the page (a search result, an ad, a spell correction, a related search).
  • The user chooses a particular query by clicking the Search button, pressing Enter, or selecting one of the predicted queries.
  • The user stops typing, and the results are displayed for a minimum of three seconds.

For small business advertisers, these instantaneous ad impressions may inflate or deflate AdWords impression figures.  At this point, it is essential to be aware of the affect that Google Instant will have on impression data and closely monitor campaign performance for major fluctuations.  Advertisers may see an uptick in impressions and a potential downturn in CTR.  However, Google’s new predictive search also has the potential to improve campaign performance.  Google Instant is designed to help users generate and choose more accurate search queries, thus producing more qualified clicks and website visitors from current PPC ads.

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