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What does Google Instant mean for PPC? (Part 2)

Posted by in Pay Per Click (PPC)

With the launch of Instant, Google have undoubtedly changed the search experience and the way users interact with the search queries. So what happens if you’re bidding on a keyword Google suggests?

Let’s use an example:
Say I am a provider of package holidays and I have been bidding on the keyword ‘holiday’ to generate a large amount of exposure. I start to type in the word holiday and get to ‘holi’, at this point Instant suggests ‘holiday inn’ and an ad is shown. This ad remains as I continue to type the entire keyword.

Even after I have completely finished typing my keyword I now have to scroll down through the results to actually find what I have typed, as holiday is only the 5th suggestion for the actual search of holiday! In the example below the keyword ‘holiday’ does not even accrue an impression until I either press enter or scroll down to it.

Now in this example Holiday Inn are in the potentially enviable position of having not only the No.1 suggestion but that suggestion is also a trademark term, which means no competition. Anyone searching for the word ‘holiday’ is going to be shown an uncontested Holiday Inn ad 4 consecutive times from ‘Holi’ to ‘Holiday’.

Some advertisers have tried to get round this by suggesting the strategy of bidding on stems of keywords. For example I might bid on ‘hol’, ‘holi’, ‘holid’, ‘holida’ and ‘holiday’ however as shown above, ads are not shown for the stems of keywords they are shown for the predicted keyword only, so this is not going to work.

In instances where the suggestions are not trademark terms the competition for the 5 keywords Google suggests could get very fierce, very fast. On the other hand we may be underestimating the power of the searcher. If a searcher is not shown an ad that relates to their query, are they going to settle, or are they going to search another more specific query to find what they are really looking for? In which case Holiday Inn may generate a lot of exposure but suffer low Click Through Rates, Quality Scores and quality of traffic. I think time will tell, and the effects will vary by keyword type and industry.

We’ll be keeping a very close eye on this over the coming weeks and await some conclusive stats regarding the effect Instant is going to have on PPC.

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