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Google Instant Shows Positive Effect on Paid Search

More impressions, more clicks, more engagement

Whether users feel the Sept. 8, 2010, switchover to Google Instant has helped them find what they are looking for, it has helped paid search, Google’s core business, according to initial research.

Paid search management platform Marin Software found that impressions and clicks increased in the two weeks after Instant’s launch compared with the two weeks before, while cost-per-click and clickthrough rates dropped. Overall costs increased slightly in the same period.

Google Instant serves interim search results as a user is typing a query. While Google has indicated that not all ads shown during that interim period will count as “impressions,” they are following a 3-second rule: If the user pauses for 3 seconds or longer to review or interact with interim search results, the impression is counted. comScore research confirms that interim search impressions were significant in the overall 9.3% increase in impressions served.

That increase, along with the rise in clicks and drops in cost per click and clickthroughs, were dependent on the length of the search query, according to Marin. The report said the difference “seems to suggest that a post-Instant world will see more short searches than before. Google Instant appears to have changed user behavior and biased it toward shorter search phrases.”

Preliminary research from search marketing solutions provider Covario, however, did not find the same increase in overall impressions, though it did record an increase in clicks on paid search ads—leading to higher, not lower, clickthrough rates. The company reported a shift in total search clicks away from organic and toward paid results, while cost per click remained constant.

Covario reported stable clickthrough rates for most search engines, but found Instant already had an effect on the search giant’s rates, bumping them up from 2.2% to 2.6% between Q2 and Q3 2010.

The company also found Google remains the most cost-effective search site, with cost per acquisition 15% below average in Q3.

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Check out today’s other article, “In Mobile Content World, Men Lead in Spending.”

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