Just today morning, I read this article on copyblogger about a change that I had noticed in my google search a few days back. Yeah, you probably guessed it right – am talking about Google Instant Previews. The article talks about how online marketers and designers need to rethink layouts and content on their websites. For me, when it comes to design, am all for minimalist elegance. It just works. Period.
But well, this post ain’t about my design preferences; it is more about the other question that popped in my head. Is Google taking a detour toward being a customer centric company in favor of the moolah? It does seem the case, in stark contrast to the commercialization the company brought to the online world within the past decade.
The feature allows the ‘searcher’ to sneak a preview of the website from within the search results, without clicking on the URL. The other biggie, Bing had already made available a similar feature long back, which I think is a far better implementation going by the core idea of an instant preview. Bing or Google, there’s no second opinion that a feature like this will help the searcher decide upfront if he/she really wants to spend an extra click to open the webpage and look around. What it indirectly implies is that the probability of a searcher chancing upon a google ad is lower, even if nominally to start with. I am already curious to know how google’s ad revenues trend after this change. If the folks at the company are aware of the possibility of a decline—which I am sure they are—the rational side of me is tempted to believe the company has tried to do something good for the end user. On the contrary, the cynical side of me wants to believe it’s just something it had to do to lock horns with what Bing already had.
Nevertheless, moving to the other side of the table, what this also means is that a searcher graduating to being an actual ‘visitor’ involves one more step outside the website owner’s control. In addition to all the lost sleep over click-through rates and average pageview times, the owners now have yet another challenge to tackle. It would be interesting—though hardly surprising—if, in another few months, websites develop the ability to track another metric called ‘preview-to-visit ratio’, or some such thing. For now, however, I’ll limit my interest to how google ads perform and the kind of correlations that emerge.