Google is far from being a little pig, but it certainly has the ability to build brick houses. For those that may not have recently read the "3 Little Pigs" fairy tale to their child, I am referring to a story that may be surprisingly relevant to the topic being discussed at Webmaster World Forums, Head of Google Search Quality denies brand bias in Google Instant.
In this case, I really feel Google got the brick house, because it will be very difficult to blow this argument down.
This is different, in my opinion, because we are dealing with suggestions being delivered by the Google autocomplete algorithm, which has been the subject of concern before (when known as Google Suggest), often related to reputation management. It is far less likely that Google would manipulate autocomplete to "rig" the results with big brands, since this would likely decrease positive user experience.
As discussed in the forums, it is possible that people could see that as being biased towards big brands. Some claim this is typical of Google to "deny, deny, deny," and user "MrFewkes" comments that "Algo wise - this - unfortunately for small business - could favour the big brands."
Could it? I followed the link from SEW to the Advertising Age post on this topic, and provided my A to Z results for single letters typed into Google from Cleveland. The results made sense, and certainly were geo-targeted to me. I have to respect Google's brick house on this subject, and go with Amit's assertion that "We didn't want to introduce any bias into the mathematical modeling..."
Why would Google spend time figuring out which big brands made the most sense to show up for these results? Many will argue that it is for the AdWords revenue. If that was the case, I feel that once I get to "mes" in the search bar, "mesothelioma" would outrank the terms "mesopotamia, mescaline, messenger, and messi" in the autocomplete, since it costs so much to bid on that term versus the others. If they were interested in revenue they would be far more likely to "stuff" non-branded high volume results into the suggestions.
Please share your opinions at Webmasterworld Forums, or in the comments below. Yes, I know the end of the fairy tale...