Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Google Instant - Google Psychic

I enjoyed the YouTube experience of Google's presentation today. I thought the streaming video combined with Twitter very well. It was a true "global audience" experience.

Some nice facts;
  • 1bn users, each week, on Google sites
  • A user spends, on average, 9 seconds writing a search
  • A searcher spends, on average, 15 seconds selecting a result
Google Instant, of course, is designed to help speed up the process. If you're looking for the Google Instant URL - just in case it's not already the URL everyone in the world has shared with you - its

If it doesn't work for you - and it's not working for me on Chrome, here in Edinburgh right now (nor did the bubbles logo - not until I got home and on to a new laptop) - then you'll not see much new. If it is working then you'll have Google updating its results even as you search.

Google point out this is not search as you type. This is search before you type. They're predicting what search you're likely to do and go fetch results ahead of time. Marissa Mayer said, "There's a psychic element to it". In fact, throughout the day the word "psychic" popped up again and again.

Indeed. If you look at the sclient value in the URL you'll see "psy". It seems pretty easy to guess that Google's called this "Google Psychic" as a project name.

If you can remember a year 2000 April Fool's from Google then "Google Mentalplex" will come to mind.

As Google Psychic rolls out, sorry, Google Instant, you'll see three different aspects to it.
  • Instant results
  • Predictions
  • Scroll to Search
There are some interesting implications for search marketers here. You might be disappointed that the news isn't more flashy but Google Instant will certainly impact how people search. Keyword frequencies will change. In fact, Google Webmaster Console's reporting of metrics like search impressions will change too as people might be generating thousands of impressions as they flash their way through to the search term they actually wanted.

Impressions are important. Clickthrough Ratio is hugely important in PPC. Google Instant shows PPC ads and it flashes through ads far faster than anyone can read or click. Now, hopefully Google's system takes that in to consideration as it works out CTR - if not, then Google Instant may destroy some CTRs.

What would the effect of that be? Advertisers will have to increase bids. Google would make more money.

It wouldn't have taken a psychic for Google to predict people would have worried about the PPC spend. It's not mentioned in their official blog post though and that's a little disappointing. (Update: This issue was addressed on the AdWords blog after all)

What struck me as I watched the event - which really walked the audience through the engineering - is that Google is still lead by its engineering heart. This was billed by Google as "big news". It is big news. We'll debate the impact on search and search marketing over the next coming weeks. What's already clear is that this has been a huge engineering project for Google.

You can tell that they're really proud of their work - and I think they've every reason to be proud of this. You may not like it. CTR might be in doubt. All that's true... but as said in the presentation; "Search matters to us" rings true from the lips of the Google team.

A figure which, for me, really puts the scale of Google Instant into perspective for me is this:

Over the course of a year Google Instant will save users 350 million hours

What do you think of Google Instant? If you hate it (what, already?) then you opt-out. Google knows to make sure the opt-out details are available on launch.

Via the Q&A session after the presentation:
Google will "do their best" with PPC. They said CTR will change. However, they also said there's a three second delay in order for a PPC ad to count as an impression.

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