How Google Instant Changes Behavior
The study released Monday analyzes the influence of Google Instant on paid search campaigns. For those living under a rock, Google now predicts search queries and begins serving up results as searchers type, reducing the amount of time it takes to perform a search.
While I don't find myself searching more or less as a result of Google Instant, the study suggests the tool made a difference in the way many others search and click.
The study compared data for the same set of keywords from the two weeks prior and the two weeks following the launch of Google Instant in early September. Marin found that overall impressions for paid search ads increased by more than 9%, while clicks increased by more than 5%. The findings suggest searchers search and click more as a result of Google Instant.
So, Marin wanted to determine whether Google Instant might skew behavior toward popular categories leading toward more expensive broad-match clicks. The study analyzes data by match type across Marin's 8.3 million keyword set and looked at paid-search performance for the period of two weeks before and after September
The analysis determined broad-match terms still count for 70% of all impressions and about 47% of all clicks, exact-match and phrase-match terms gained ground after Instant was launched. Impressions and clicks for phrase and exact-match terms had higher percentage increases when compared with broad-match terms.
Overall advertiser costs rose by less than 2% for the time period studied as a result of increased click volumes. Despite increased costs, advertisers have benefitted from Instant. The average cost-per-click rates fell by more than 3%, prompting advertises to spend more.
Will the tool that aims to shave minutes from consumer searches boost company revenue? The estimated 2% revenue increase would provide a welcome uptick to the $30 billion in revenue analysts expect Google to report this year.
Surprising findings based on Jonathan Rosenberg, Google's senior vice president for product management, remarks during the company's third-quarter earnings call earlier this month. He explained Google did not create Instant to make money, but rather provide searchers with a better experience. It turns out the new search tool is pretty expensive, costing a bundle in additional hardware.
Google Instant did lead to an increase in impressions and conversions across the board, according to the report. Ads for shorter queries benefited more than ads for long queries, indicating the predictive nature of Google Instant may bias users toward searching for common phrases.
Based on Marin's analysis, Google Instant did not skew user behavior toward more expensive broad-match clicks. Instead, the reverse happened, according to the study, with exact and phrase-match clicks gaining popularity, and a drop in overall CPCs as user's favored lower-cost exact and phrase match terms. Marin suggests the change is due to Google providing a larger proportion of exact and phrase-match search phrases for shorter token searches.
When analyzing the impact of Google Instant on query length patterns, Marin found impressions and clicks increased more for short searches compared with long. The increase in short-search impressions and clicks seems to suggest a post Google Instant world will see more short searches than before, according to the study. By helping users refine search queries through predicted search phrases, Google Instant appears to have changed user behavior and biased it toward shorter search phrases.