The 8 Billion Dollar Design Challenge

It has been estimated that advertisers will spend $8 billion this year on search engines. The companies on which this money will be spent are attempting to enhance their designs in order to compete in this market while at the same time having to balance the interests of users completing the search and advertisers wanting them to consider their products. Add to this, the rather dramatic changes in the content mix on the web with a greater volume of video and image material.

Google entered the market in 1998 and succeeded due to 1) superior search accuracy, 2) simplicity of its user interface, and 3) its ability to make advertising relevant to the search and insert it non-obtrusively in the search results. This is really a Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) success story. Providing users what they want in a way that they want and incorporating the business model for Google seamlessly into the user experience by making it relevant and minimalist. It is truly HCI brilliance!

However, the vastly increased importance of the online platform for advertising (as witnessed by the recent takeover bids of search companies) and the new media formats on the web have created a design challenge for companies in the search engine business. In a recent article entitled Gunning for Google, author Matt Vella summarizes the key design challenges and what the major companies are doing to address them.