Despite all the hype and Google’s changing logos this week the launch last night was not Google Me, but something called Google Instant: the ability to search and get results before you type. It is Google says “smarter and faster search that is interactive, predictive and powerful” and it will save you time and possibly boost ad performance.
The search firm promises that the benefits include saving between two to five seconds per search adding up to hours over the course of weeks and months.
“Instant takes what you have typed already, predicts the most likely completion and streams results in real-time for those predictions—yielding a smarter and faster search that is interactive, predictive and powerful,” Google said on its blog.
In practice the way it works is this: as you type a search, Google Instant automatically shows results for a popular search that begins with those letters as its algorithm attempts to predict the rest of the query. The predicted text is shown in light grey and search results and ads are automatically shown for that predicted query.
With the launch of Google Instant Google is taking search forward and it has been working on this for quite a while. Google Instant is a leap rather than the pigeon steps we have witnessed in search in recent years. If you think about how static search has been since the arrival of Google this is a significant change.
We have had algorithm additions and content tweaks as the addition of blogs, news, Twitter, and dedicated real time – witnessed most recently with the launch of Google Real-Time Search, but fundamentally the business of typing a query and hitting return has not really changed. Now it will change before you type, but what difference will that make?
Well for a start there is no need to hit return as the nature of Google Instant means that as soon as you see the faint grey predictive words you can stop typing and look at your instant results. It is pretty cool.
What does this mean for ads?
Well according to Google it is expecting “increased user engagement with our search services, including ads”. Google says that Google Instant might increase or decrease your overall impression levels, but overall campaign performance could improve because (in theory) it can improve the quality of your clicks as it helps people search using terms that more directly connect them with the answers they need.
Google says that when someone searches using Google Instant ad impressions are counted in these situations:
* 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 3 seconds.
It is recommending monitoring your ads’ performance the same way you usually do.
Google has tried this before with demos as it notes on its blog, but while its “search-as-you-type demos were thought-provoking—fun, fast and interactive” they were flawed. Why? Well Google answers the question itself.
“You don’t really want search-as-you-type (no one wants search results for [bike h] in the process of searching for [bike helmets]). You really want search-before-you-type—that is, you want results for the most likely search given what you have already typed.
“As you can imagine, searching even before someone types isn’t easy—which is why we are so excited today to be unveiling Google Instant. Google Instant is search-before-you-type. Instant takes what you have typed already, predicts the most likely completion and streams results in real-time for those predictions—yielding a smarter and faster search that is interactive, predictive and powerful.”
Google Instant core features:
* Dynamic Results – Google dynamically displays relevant search results as you type so you can quickly interact and click through to the web content you need.
* Predictions – One of the key technologies in Google Instant is that we predict the rest of your query (in light gray text) before you finish typing. See what you need? Stop typing, look down and find what you’re looking for.
* Scroll to search – Scroll through predictions and see results instantly for each as you arrow down.
As part of our rollout, Google Instant will become the core search experience on Google.com for Chrome, Firefox, Safari and IE 8.
“We’ll also be offering Google Instant to our users in France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Spain and the UK who are signed in and have Instant-capable browsers. Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll work to roll out Google Instant to all geographies and platforms.”