Google Instant: Big changes for users, publishers, marketers

It remains to be seen how it will be accepted by end users, what impact it will have on ad performance and efficiency

Pursuing speed, Google now refreshes search results while people type queries, which could usher in major changes for end users, advertisers and publishers.

Announced on Wednesday, Google Instant presents and adjusts search results and their accompanying ads on the fly as users enter search terms in the search engine's box.

The intention is to compress the loop of entering queries, scanning the search results, refining the query and checking the new results, a process that may be repeated multiple times and sometimes leads to frustration.

The feature is undeniably a computer engineering tour-de-force, but it remains to be seen how it will be accepted by end users and what impact it will have on ad performance and efficiency, as well as on the visibility of organic search results.

Developing such a groundbreaking and bold feature shows that, at Google, the search business remains king, even when the company plays in a broad range of markets.

"Google is clearly doubling down on its heritage: search, which it does really, really well," said analyst Charlene Li of Altimeter Group.

According to Google, Instant isn't "search as you type" but rather "search before you type" because the engine is anticipating and predicting the most likely query the user intends to key in.

As Google rolls out the feature, sophisticated users are more likely to embrace it than are ordinary ones, as the former understand the convenience and time savings while the latter may feel disconcerted, at least initially.

"It's an improvement, and represents greater efficiency and convenience for people who are accustomed to using search," said analyst Greg Sterling of Sterling Market Intelligence. "But there is this blinking-light effect, with the way the page changes as you proceed with the character entry, that may be a bit disorienting to more ordinary users."

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