Google Instant Pressures Bing, Yahoo

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-09-12

Google Instant Pressures Bing, Yahoo

It's too early to tell how or if the 1 billion Google users will cotton to Google Instant, the predictive search technology geared to accelerate information retrieval.

Yet analysts seem confident the technology is a game-changer for the search engine versus Microsoft Bing and Yahoo, helping Google make more money from more searches made.

Thanks to an impressive feat of AJAX Web and caching technologies, Google Instant lets users enter search queries and watch the results and their associated ads surface with each letter typed into the search box.

Because Instant often retrieves relevant results before users finish typing their query, the technology could help users shorten their search time by an average 2 to 5 seconds per query.

That's a big consideration at a time when users are spending on average of 25 seconds composing a query, entering it and alighting on the right result. Instant users will rarely have to conduct several searches to find the information they seek.

Analysts looking at the bottom line have surmised that enabling users to conduct quicker searches will lead to more searching on Google, which ultimately means more opportunities for search ad revenue.

"We think such an improvement could increase the total volume and frequency of searches as users adopt the automation," Jefferies and Co. analyst Youssef Squali said in a research note.

Moreover, because Google Instant offers a faster route to popular results, this will boost the revenue opportunity for so-called head-end queries. Because these queries monetize better on a cost-per-click basis, long-tail queries will become de-emphasized by the predictive search.

This "may lift revenue per search (RPS), all else equal," Squali said. eWEEK detailed Instant's impact on SEO here.

"While Google's real-time search interface may take a bit of getting used to, we believe it could over time enhance search volume, frequency and yield on desktops, and eventually mobile devices," Squali wrote.

If potential measures up to practice, it doesn't bode well for Bing and Yahoo. Together, the rivals are struggling to combine for 30 percent market share versus Google, which commands 65 percent in the United States and more abroad.

Google Instant Ups Ante for Microsoft, Yahoo


Susquehanna Research analyst Marianne Wolk believes Google Instant for Mobile, when it appears this fall, will be a disruptive force in the mobile Internet.

Currently, typing and searching on smartphones is a chore for most users, who tend to give up on searching if they don't quickly find out what they want.

Thus, being able to execute searches with just a couple keystrokes should boost the number of searches conducted. Consumers simply won't be as reticent to search from their handsets, Wolk believes.

"With improved search relevancy, we would expect a rise in mobile CPCs, and over time, mobile ad pricing should close the gap or exceed desktop CPCs," Wolk wrote in a Sept. 9 research note.

"Stronger CPCs coupled with an increase in clicks and conversions should mean stronger mobile advertising."

Google Instant on desktop and mobile is bad news for Bing and Yahoo, analysts believe. Microsoft's Bing team shrugged off Instant, and Yahoo lamented letting comparable technology fizzle in 2005.

Squali said Google Instant will force Microsoft and Yahoo, whose search results are now powered by Bing in the United States, to ramp up their search innovation and investments.

Wolk said that because Google Instant is likely to make users accustomed to focusing on the query box rather than the left column or the page of Web results, it could make it more difficult or less satisfying to use other search engines.

"Thus this innovation in user experience could improve Google's market share lead, and at a minimum, will force competitors to play catch-up," Wolk said.

Of course, Google users will have to embrace the technology first. IDC analyst Hadley Reynolds told eWEEK Instant may turn off some Google users. Ultimately, he expects that Instant will be generally well-received.

"This will put pressure on Bing and Yahoo and Ask to provide an equivalent experience," Reynolds said.

"While Bing has had the initiative in user experience innovation over the past year, Google Instant shows that Google is very intent on continuing to dominate the Web search space-both in technology and user traffic."

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