Google Instant Ad Previews And Acceleration Of Information

Hey look! Another new Google AdWords feature. This week, it’s instant previews for PPC ads. Google rolled this out for organic results earlier this year, but it took them a couple months to get it working for AdWords, apparently.

Now, searchers can hover over your ads and get a preview of your landing page. What does this mean for your PPC campaigns? First off, you’re going to need a really good landing page to get a user’s attention in that tiny window. And don’t rely on text that won’t be able to be read. Graphics that convey the content of your page would be good, as long as they can be understood when they’re resized to about 1/4 of their normal dimensions in the preview. If a user doesn’t think that the landing page is relevant based on the preview, you’re probably going to lose that click. But, on the plus side, if you landing page sucks your account is going to get a lot less expensive once people stop clicking on your ads…

I see this as part of a larger trend in Google’s innovation strategy. First there was Google Caffeine, speeding up the serving of search results. Then there was Google Instant, serving up new results on the fly. After that, it was previews for organic results, followed by this week’s rollout for the paid results. All of these tweaks sped up the transmission of information from webpage to search result to brain. Apparently, Google wants you to find what you’re looking for ever faster, even if that means shaving off microseconds at a time.

But is this Google’s way of making the world a better place, or are they just adapting to evolving search trends? Is there a real demand for faster search results, or is Google just anticipating one? And most importantly of all, how does Google benefit from all this? The last time I checked, Google benefited from having you spend more time on the internet, not less.

Maybe they just want to serve up as many search results as possible as quickly as possible, to get you to click on more ads. But it seems to me like adding previews to ads would cause people to click less since people could make a judgment call on the page’s quality before clicking on an ad. The plot thickens when you realize that advertisers don’t pay for an ad preview. They only pay when a person clicks on an ad. So why would Google roll out an AdWords feature that would seem to decrease their revenue?

Paranoid conspiracy theories aside, I do think this is a neat feature. Now would be an excellent time to give your landing pages a once-over, and optimize them for appearing in a tiny preview window.

About Shawn Livengood

Shawn Livengood is a search engine marketing professional based in Austin, Texas. He has extensive experience managing pay-per-click ad campaigns for clients in various industries, from small home-based businesses to large international companies. You can connect with Shawn on Google+.
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