“T” is for Target, but also for competitor TJ Maxx and “S” is for Sony and Samsung–so who gets the first search impression?

Even though Google Instant was just rolled out this week, we’ve already been inundated with the benefits and potential pitfalls of the new search engine results system. If you haven’t tried it yet, Google now allows users to perform a search query and receive organic and paid results without finishing the remaining keystrokes and hitting enter.

The benefit to users as Google announced is time and keystrokes saved; some 350 million hours per year or two to five seconds per search. Some see an issue with this time saving measure as cannibalizing Google’s coveted paid search model.

In essence, Google is attempting to predict your query starting with the very first letter. Sounds great—but what about big brands like Target and Sony who spend millions of dollars on Google Adwords campaigns—does Target show up first or TJ Maxx? Sony or Samsung? Could be either one depending on your browser history or geography.

Many predict that impressions will certainly go up, but will click thru’s decline? Not surprisingly, according to Adwords head, Jon Diorio, the answer is no: “It could be a 5% increase or a 5% decrease in average impressions, but it should not change the amount of money advertisers make.”

And what about user experience—humans naturally resist change and is this the best time to introduce this technology in light of Bing and Yahoo’s alliance beginning to take full flight? “It’s like power-steering in a car; once you get used to it, you won’t be able to search without it,” said Google Search VP Marissa Mayer, adding that it’s a fundamental shift in search technology and “a step into the future of search.”

Especially interesting timing since according to Bloomberg, “Yahoo! Inc.’s search engine gained U.S. market share last month (August) as leader Google Inc. lost ground, according to ComScore Inc.”

Google has yet to make a major mistake—at least in the general public’s eye. Those in the know realize they failed miserably with Google Buzz and the ill planned Google Wave, but this change effects their core base of users and potentially their biggest advertisers. As always, time will tell.

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