Google is ubiquitous in the lives of people who use smartphones or any personal tech gadget. Want to search something on the internet? There’s Google Search. Want to commute from point A to point B? Look at Google Maps — even the die-hard Apple fanatics haven’t ‘converted’ to Apple Maps. Email, videos, productivity apps — Google is everywhere. Yet, it remains quite synonymous with Search. “Google it” could very well be one of the most commonly used two words in the digital age. However, a report by The Wall Street Journal explains how Amazon is putting a dent in Google’s revenues, which has led to a ‘makeover’ of Google Search.
What is Google’s makeover of Search all about?
In one word: online shopping. At an event yesterday, Google spoke about the advancements it is making to Search results. Relying heavily on AI, Google will use something called MUM or Multitask Unified Model. Google claims that it is 1000 times more powerful than the current BERT model. Using this tech, Google is aiming to ensure that users don’t actually go off its apps and services. For instance, if you want to search for a sweatshirt, then Google will show results that have review videos on YouTube, links to shopping sites, blogs and more. Further, users will be able to compare prices without actually leaving the search page. This new experience is powered by Google’s Shopping Graph, a comprehensive, real-time dataset of products, inventory, and merchants with more than 24 billion listings. “This not only helps us connect shoppers with the right products for them, it also helps millions of merchants and brands get discovered on Google every day,” said Google in a blog.
In short, Google’s betting big on e-commerce search with its latest revamp and it’s largely because of Amazon.
Amazon isn’t about ‘search’ but it’s hurting Google
The Wall Street Journal report reveals that Amazon being the e-commerce behemoth has become a “starting point for an estimated 53% of US searches for consumer goods.” What this has done is it has increased Amazon’s share of search ad sales. Advertisers, as per the WSJ report, are shifting their spend from Google to Amazon. Google’s share in the space was 61% in 2019 and is now down to 57%. The drop might not seem too drastic but Amazon is raking in the moolah from search ad sales. In 2021, Amazon has garnered about $14.82 billion in ad sales — a 82% jump compared to last year, as per the report. Google still leads the market and has six times the revenue but it has grown just under 50% during the same time period.
What Google is doing to counter Amazon
In the last few years, Google has really stepped on the gas when it comes to shopping. According to the WSJ report, Google is adopting a two-pronged strategy — one that focuses on retailers and the other on consumers. With retailers, Google, as per the report, doesn’t ask retainers to advertise to get their products listed in shopping searcher. Google also doesn’t collect commissions anymore on purchases and further, it partnered with Shopify to make search listings simpler for close to 2 million merchants.
On the consumer side, the new Search is Google’s attempt to curtail Amazon’s growth. The new Search results will look more like Amazon — more picture heavy and users will be able to see brands, styles and other relevant things quickly and easily.
A new and intriguing battle is brewing between two of the biggest tech companies in the world and it is perhaps time to wait and watch, who comes out on top.