What does Google Instant mean for Adwords Advertisers?

Sep 9, 2010

The world has had a chance to sleep on the news that the telegraph described as..

technology anti-climax of the decade

The Telegraph

Personally I’m not so sure! If you had seen google’s homepage back when they launched you may very well have said the same thing. Sometimes big ideas and habit changing tools lack the wow factor we come to expect. This change seems to be backed-up by some decent research about how people type their searches into google and lets face it, they have enough data to be sure it is significant. I cannot imagine they have made the change lightly.

But what I am wondering, as I am sure lots of people are, is what does this mean for adwords PPC (pay per click) advertising.

One thing is clear, serving up adverts as a user types will generate vastly more impressions. Interestingly google have made the decision to start returning results after just a single character is typed. I am not sure how useful the results can be after a single character but if it speeds up users then who am I to argue.

How this Affects Adwords

Adwords adverts now starts to appear as soon as somebody is bidding on keywords that are shown in the suggestion box. This is important, instead of just matching what the users has typed it also matches googles guesses at what they might be about to type. I presume (hope!) that the suggestions is based on search volume not on google’s revenue.

Google Instant Example

I type in “loa” and I am bombarded with suggestions about “loans” and “loan calculators” and the matching adwords campaigns are returned. This may well cause broad match terms to be even more difficult to manage and may make the terms that are suggested even more competitive.

I continue to type my search query “loaf” and suddenly everything is referring to shoes. Much better but what about all of those completely useless impressions on loans. Well it seems clear that for the most suggested terms the number of impressions will rise, while the clicks remain the same.

Will we really see clicks remaining constant though? Users are now being pointed in the direction of certain search terms and so we may see search volume gravitating towards these terms. Users may also be pushed towards more specific terms that they may not have considered. This could make effectively managing an adwords campaign simpler but I would not count on it – either way it is most certainly going to mean some rethinking and restructuring.

Clicks not impressions are, afterall, the things you pay for – so the most important things to consider are.

  • Will overall click volume be effected
  • Will clicks move towards or away from the highest volume terms
  • Will clicks move towards or away from long tail, specific terms
  • How will advertisers adjust to the new landscape

I think it is the last point that is most important. Accurate monitoring and measuring of impressions and clicks in your campaigns will allow you to stay ahead of the competition and ensure you are spending your money on the right search terms.

For more information I suggest the [google instant homepage][1].

Or just start typing in google itself!

How impressions are counted

I managed to find this information from the google help centre that clears up exactly what counts as an impression Very useful

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 three seconds.

[1]: http://www.google.com/insidesearch/features/instant/about.html