Google is a soothsayer:
The Google Instant (formerly AutoFill) function is often taken for granted, most likely because it is one of Google’s most intuitive functions. You begin typing your search and before you even finish typing Google has interpreted what you might be trying to find out, and returns its answers. It’s possible to search for an infinite number of queries without even pressing enter or selecting a result. Similar to window shopping, a customer may see a product or advertisement without formally interacting with your storefront. This same behavior can be taken into account when considering paid search ads.
Google defines an impression as “How often your ad is shown. An impression is counted each time your ad is shown on a search result page or other site on the Google Network.”. What about the Google Instant function?
Hidden deep in Google support documents is a nod to this question, and the short version is: If someone stalls on a search result for 3+ seconds, interacts with the results, or leaves the search bar an impression will register.
Check it out in the wild:
Lets say I’m on a search query for “Fort Worth”, and I decide that I need a new collar for Buddy, my dog.
- I begin to type my query, which will be “orvis dog collars”, into the search bar starting with “Orvis”. Google Instant pulls all results for the query “Orvis” before I finish typing the query and press enter, thus serving me an ad for all Orvis products and registering as 1 impression.
- It then serves me another ad for “Orvis dog beds”, registering as yet another impression.
- As I finish the query (still without having pressed enter) and type in “dog collars”. Google AutoFill pulls all the results and another ad, this time for Orvis dog collars.
The more you know:
In total this single search racked up 3 impressions, which may not seem like much at first, but in the long run similar searches could inflate your impression count 3 fold. Just one more consideration to keep in mind when analyzing the data from your Google ads.