We all nodded at Andrew’s comment around “Google getting squeezed; but not being able to see a single technology or entity being the Google killer.”
As none of us believed the threat was from a search engine – where would the threat come from?
My opinion was that the biggest threat is their own success. As more advertisers flock to the platform and it becomes easier to use, eventually it’ll stop being the fantastic ROI-driver it is. Speaking to client-side marketeers in expensive search verticals such as insurance, there are already internal conversations around the profitability of paid search.
However, I do believe that Google will combat this by:
- Overlaying audience data onto a keyword search to make a click more relevant, and therefore valuable to an advertiser.
- Making other products better converting – recent changes in YouTube have shown how this is possible.
- Growing their inventory through expansion and acquisition.
I found it Interesting that my perceived threat didn’t resonate throughout the group. Most believed that Google has the smarts, data and inventory to combat it.
Phil and Andrew’s opinions were closely aligned with focus on the key threat being political and regulatory.
Phil said that “I don’t see a threat to Google within the ad industry per se. Rather – the biggest threats to Google I can see are political. As nations gravitate towards the regulation of data, this [shift] will make it much harder for publishers like Google to monetise the vast amounts of data they collect.”
Andrew questioned – “how can Google and Google Ads continue unabated, without some interference from anti-competitive laws, or big changes to privacy law?”
Dan believed that the threat comes from Vertical Search. “I think we’re going to see more vertical search; Amazon for retail, maybe places like Home Improvement Pages for trade-based search and Domain for real estate. However, I don’t think it’s going to be earth-shattering in terms of the budget that’s flaunted. A specific battle will be around eCommerce, thinking about Amazon or places like Citrus Ad which power search for FMCG brands from the likes of Woollies and Officeworks.”
Phil also saw eCommerce as being a key battleground – but with a different steer. “There are threats to search such as conversational ecommerce in FB messenger, 1-tap checkout in Instagram – but they aren’t existential. Google has the resilience, tech and smarts to adapt to the new world. Also, money. Lots and lots of money.”
The one thing we all agreed on was that the main threat was from Amazon. We also agreed that Amazon’s entry to the Australian market has been underwhelming to date, but that it’s a phased approach. With the large number of people on the ground here, they’re clearly not going anywhere soon.
Preet referred to Amazon’s approach as not being underwhelming, but “very deliberate and systematic” and having “the disposable cash to make it work”. “In countries such as the US and the UK, most products are stocked on Amazon and that’s where your purchase journey starts and finishes. Google is completely out of that equation. However, Google’s main point of difference is being able to connect businesses and customers with an omni-channel approach – and Google can facilitate that connection.”
Miki questioned whether voice search could be a threat; “Becoming an expensive distraction as they work out how to own the market and monetise it, releasing devices with screens and starting to charge for their crowd-pleasing free services such as Gmail?”