Only a couple of hours have passed since Google’s introduction and announcement of Google Instant, but the digital marketing world is already quite stirred up over it; and the palette range goes all the way from concern to amazement… Affiliate marketers are obviously directly affected as well. But how exactly?
Matthew Wood, the founder of affiliates4u and a4uexpo conference, has already published his “initial reaction on Google Instant and Affiliates” where he covers 5 threats and 4 opportunities. Read his thoughts here.
I, in my turn, have talked to a number of active affiliate marketers to get their first thoughts on Google Instant, and here are the replies that I have received so far:
I like the idea of Google Instant as it provides predictive real time results and refinement tools for search. From an affiliate marketing perspective, it provides a way to display multiple organic, social media and paid results based on the keyword as it builds. For example, I may market the term coffee, coffee maker, coffee maker cleaner and profit from 3 different presentations vs one keyword phrase. In a case for trend watching, the refinement of results by latest, 24 hours, etc. allows a marketer to present various streams of information including social media on a tiered scale. Real time results makes search more useful so as marketers we must embrace and adopt new strategies.
–Michael Vorel, CEO of Vastplanet.com
The new instant results could have a massive impact on the industry. When you couple this with recent comments that Google has made about the value of “middlemen” — us — it shows that clearly, many affiliates are going to have to adapt in new and creative ways. Google may not be our friend anymore — if they ever were.
–Daniel M. Clark, Co-host of Geek Dads Weekly
Ever since Google started beta testing instant search, I have predicted that this will tend to push the searches that are engaged with into the mid-tail. Thus what often were long-tail searches will be encouraged to go a little longer with the suggestions, and long-tail searches will get shorter. It is a bigger improvement for people who can’t type. I am not sure whether they spend more or less online than more sophisticated users. Mid-tail will become even more competitive in Google, especially on suggested terms — this will affect both PPC and Organic.
Google has already stated that their calculations will be the same for the primary organic search results and Adwords, and they won’t be counting a display unless there is interaction with a page, such as a click, 3 second pause or maybe a scroll.
On SEO Google stated this won’t really have any effect.
Any guesses are for gradual changes in browsing habits. Incremental changes in query habits as people learn queries which get them the kind of results they are looking for… everyone tends to look on relevant differently.
— Andy Beard of AndyBeard.eu
I think Google Instant will be less of a change for affiliates than the “auto-complete” function that’s already in place. It doesn’t appear to impact searches in toolbars or mobile, yet, so the impact will be greater once it is fully integrated in all of Google’s search options.
–Sharon Mostyn of SharonMostyn.com
Are you ready to save an extra 2-5 seconds per search using Google? Google Instant is now live on Google and it’s quite amazing. You can instantly browse through results as you type in your search phrase. What I find even more amazing is how it also displays advertisement results. If you type in “affiliate” you will get results, then as you type “affiliate marketing” you will have a whole new set of results. Plenty of questions come to mind, such as: will this effect over all CTRs, impressions and tracking for ad campaigns? This also opens a whole new method for quickly flashing through a ton of keywords and seeing which ad campaign pop up in the the sponsor section. No matter if you are usuing Google Instant just for search, or from an advertiser perspective… it’s pretty amazing!
–Zac Johnson of ZacJohnson.com
My first take on Google Instant was that it was another engineering-led attempt to do something difficult and cool. But the technology behind running an AJAX update on every keystroke isn’t that hard. It’s just incredibly demanding of server capacity. And, after using it for a day, I honestly don’t see much of a search consumer benefit beyond the auto-complete function that already exists. But I have a lot of respect for Google’s willingness to publicly throw things against the wall to see what sticks. So, before relegating it to the pile of novel but not always useful Google product launches, I tried to ask the simple question of why Google would launch this. Is it simply to force Microsoft to hire a few thousand more engineers? Possibly. But they can’t be too worried yet about Bing’s search share. Then I got to thinking … let’s suppose for just a minute that Google is in business to make money. Crazy, I know. Then how could this new function drive more revenue for Google? It’s certainly not going to substantially increase the number of searches being run, so it’s more likely designed to influence the nature of the results in an effort to influence search behavior and, ultimately, click pricing. As I was sitting here discussing the implications of Google Instant with our CTO, I came across this post on AdAge. I think this may shed some light on the intent behind Google Instant. In short, if you type in just one letter of the alphabet into Google Instant, you get served up a marketing result — and in nearly all cases a specific corporate brand. For example, type “A” into Google Instant, and the top result is for AOL. Type “B” and the top result is Bank of America. Type “I” and the top result is IKEA. You get the picture. I’d like to think that this is a derivative of the most common searches and not an overt commercial effort by Google, but I seriously doubt that IKEA is the most frequently searched I-word. Then again, let’s suppose for just a moment that Google is in business to make money…
–Jason Spievak, CEO of RingRevenue
I think this is too complex a change to fully get our heads around without seeing some results. However, based on my first looks, it seems this may distract searchers from typing the longer-tail terms. If people succumb to the shorter search term results that are flashing in their faces as they type the first few words, the rich will get richer.
–Scott Jangro of AffBook.com
I do think it will alter the way some people search but only marginally. I also think it will distract or annoy others which I assume is why Google allows users to turn it off. While interesting and cool, I don’t think Instant will be a big impact for affiliate marketing in general and affiliate marketers specifically. In fact, I think Search Suggestions have probably added more to the bottom line for affiliates than Instant will because suggestions make it obvious that one can search for other query strings that include coupons, reviews, alternate products, and many other affiliate-valuable terms that would not have been considered otherwise.
One actually annoying thing about Instant is how it works with search suggestions. It instantly completes words based on suggestions and shows results for them; however, if I see some interesting results, quit typing that query (before finishing the word), and hit enter so I can click the results, Google then shows a new set of results based on the incomplete word in my query and I lose the result I wanted to click. Take a search for tooth as an example. Google Instant skips over tooth and starts to show results for toothache. That’s fine if I’m searching for toothache; however, if I don’t finish typing toothache I get results for tooth even though I saw something under toothache that I wanted to click.
Bottom line, I see Google Instant as a creative way to create some buzz and (probably temporary) excitement but not really a big deal. The technology behind it is amazing and I’m sure it is no small feat to accomplish this in real time. I find that part truly amazing … but in reality not very useful to me at this time. The cynical side of me wonders if Google simply needed to capture some headlines again since a lot has been written about the Bing/Yahoo! deal of late?
–Mike Allen, President of Shopping-Bargains.com
Finally, Wil Reynolds tweeted an advice — which echos some of Scott Jangro’s above-quoted words — I fully concur with: “Stop speculating about Google Instant. Arm yourself with data to determine impact” (to base your conclusions on real metrics).
What are your thoughts about Google Instant and its impact on affiliate marketing? I’d love to hear them in the “Comments” are below.