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Did Google Go Instant Just To Show More Ads? 250

Posted by Soulskill
from the faster-than-the-speed-of-marketing dept.
eldavojohn writes "Google, already the largest search engine in the United States, went instant a few weeks ago. MIT's Tech Review asks why Google went instant and is skeptical that users actually look at search results before they finish typing their query. Othar Hansson, Google's lead on the initiative, informs them otherwise and claims that Google's traffic monitors didn't even blink at the extra data being sent across — primarily because of its insignificance next to streaming one video on YouTube. Hansson also reveals that Google's search engine is no longer stateless and therefore takes up a little more memory in their server hives. The Tech Review claims that 'sources at the company say Google Instant's impact on ad sales was a primary focus in testing the service. Google only gets paid for an advertisement, or sponsored link, when a user clicks on the ad, and ads are targeted to specific searches. By displaying a search's ads onscreen a couple of seconds sooner, the frequency of users clicking on those ads could only go up.' So money seemed to be the prime motivator and the article also coyly notes that the average length of time a user spends between typing in any two characters is 300 milliseconds — much too fast for old JavaScript engines. Of course, you might recall Google's efforts to change all that with JavaScript speed wars. Do you find Google Instant to be useful in any way, or does it strike you as just more ad gravity for your mouse?"
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Did Google Go Instant Just To Show More Ads?

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  • Not for everyone (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rumith (983060) on Monday September 20, 2010 @11:53AM (#33636888)
    I personally find Instant Search an awesome feature. However, it seems to conflict with an experimental search feature I love (namely, the keyboard shortcuts), so until Google introduces a version that supports both Instant and keyboard shortcuts, the latter feature wins.
  • Bling Bling, Baby (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nmb3000 (741169) <nmb3000@that-google-mail-site.com> on Monday September 20, 2010 @11:57AM (#33636946) Homepage Journal

    Given the complete uselessness of the feature (as described in TFA), I always figured instant search as just being some bogus bling that Google can use to show how they're staying ahead of alternatives like Bing. Even phrases like "gone instant" reek of marketing slime.

    The truth is that Bing, even with as few people around here that use it, really is working on keeping pace, or even surpassing Google in some areas. Microsoft's recent demos of their sliding [slashdot.org] and composited [slashdot.org] street-view, for example, were pretty impressive.

    Hopefully Google has some real new features in store and hasn't fallen to relying on completely useless visual gimmicks to keep customers. Recently their work on improving search has been to make their text fields and buttons too big and to waste CPU cycles with stupid instant search. Whee.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 20, 2010 @12:00PM (#33637016)

    It moves a lot of text around. Its an extreme visual flicker, and also, if you're fast with the mouse on machine with high load or occasionally hit the keyboard, you cannot click the correct links anymore. Turned off at least until they preserve locations of the lines of text and links while typing.

  • by Zerth (26112) on Monday September 20, 2010 @12:01PM (#33637026) Homepage

    Contrarily, much as I like the "suggested searches/autocomplete" feature to help refine my searches, I also like seeing the results for the parts of my search as I type. Frequently, I'll see the results I want before I even finish typing.

    On the other hand, it bloats up the search page, but it can be turned off when I'm using an older computer.

  • by tchuladdiass (174342) on Monday September 20, 2010 @12:03PM (#33637062) Homepage

    It seems like it is more annoying for those who touch type faster. I can see it being useful if you are a slow typist, but for me I turned off. The most annoying "feature" is it will do the search on the first predicted result that is on the dropdown list. So you type in the first couple words, and the search results are based on the next one or two words that they think you were going to type, which is nothing like what you were looking for.

  • Re:Turned it off (Score:2, Interesting)

    by PetiePooo (606423) on Monday September 20, 2010 @12:03PM (#33637068)
    Same here. There was an about link and a description of how to disable it that I searched for (pardon the pun) as soon as they turned on instant searches.
  • by catbutt (469582) on Monday September 20, 2010 @12:13PM (#33637226)
    Once you turn it off, it stays off. Is that really such a problem that you had to turn it off once per computer?
  • Re:Profit! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 20, 2010 @12:14PM (#33637244)

    Came here to post this.

    Google is a company which makes its money through advertising, which it sells by making free services (this bit costs money) that people find useful and putting ads in them, in an unobtrusive way and generally useful way.

    OP seems to have a problem with this business model, and the fact that Google is a business not a charity. This makes them a complete and utter retard.

  • Re:Search (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AvitarX (172628) <me@brandywinehun ... g minus math_god> on Monday September 20, 2010 @12:16PM (#33637280) Journal

    I do too, but I actually like the instant results when i end up on a google.com page.

    I can quickly look at the top 3 or 4 results scrolling down the suggestions. Previously I would have to guess which suggestion was best and search.

    Not earth shattering, but not the useless annoyance I thought it would be. It makes it slightly easier to find the correct search term before wading through results.

  • Re:Wrong (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 20, 2010 @12:19PM (#33637304)

    They didn't say the click through rate, but frequency of clicks. Meaning x clicks per day, as opposed to x clicks per hundred impressions. They were most certainly correct, and I see nothing wrong with what Google has done here.

  • by Artifice_Eternity (306661) on Monday September 20, 2010 @12:25PM (#33637414) Homepage

    If your browser is set to clear cookies every time it closes, then you have to turn it off again every time you start using Google in a new browser session.

  • by mldi (1598123) on Monday September 20, 2010 @12:25PM (#33637426)

    Once you turn it off, it stays off. Is that really such a problem that you had to turn it off once per computer?

    Because it's once per session, yes, it is indeed a problem.

  • by wiredlogic (135348) on Monday September 20, 2010 @12:54PM (#33637900)

    I've gotten used to the laggy feeling and jumpiness but what I can't stand is that after being trained to not have to enter a query it sometimes wipes out the final results and tells me I have to hit enter. WTF?

  • Re:Profit! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tophermeyer (1573841) on Monday September 20, 2010 @01:15PM (#33638258)

    I don't understand how paid commercial ads could ever be "useful" to those exposed to them. Thankfully there are things like Adblock Plus.

    One could make the argument that accurately targeted ads do benefit the user. They make me aware of products I might be interested in that I was not previously aware of.

    The big reason of course is that those commercial ads are funding the awesome free services that I use all the time. The ads themselves may not benefit me, but they allow Google to keep on doing its thing, which does benefit me.

    For the same reason I still allow Slashdot to display me advertisements. I have the option to disable advertising, but I don't. If a service relies on advertising dollars to function and I enjoy the service, then it is in my best interests in making sure the advertisers feel like they can reach out to me through that service. Adblock is fine on an individual level. But If everyone used it then advertisers would stop paying money to post ads.

  • by Linux_ho (205887) on Monday September 20, 2010 @01:28PM (#33638468) Homepage
    I found it useful last week. I was doing a search on the model number of the water heater in my house, looking for a replacement part. There were no search results for the full model number, but when I hit the backspace button a couple times in the Google Instant search, I was able to find some search results for a model that was pretty close to the same one in my house. As it turned out, they were close enough and I was able to find the replacement parts I needed.
  • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Monday September 20, 2010 @03:11PM (#33640158) Homepage Journal

    All the posts complaining about this surprised me, mainly because I'm surprised that anyone uses the google search page. Don't pretty much all browsers have a search field? I type my search in there, hit enter, and see the results.

    For me, "http://google.com" is a connectivity diagnostic tool, not a search tool.

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