For years, if you wanted to get into search advertising, you really only had one choice: Google.
Today, that $37 billion market hasn’t changed much, with Bing capturing just 23 percent of desktop search market. It’s even worse for mobile search: a whopping 96 percent of all search ad clicks on mobile devices during Fourth Quarter 2016 were due to efforts by Google. It’s a Google world out there. Or is it?
Specialized Searches Chip Away at Google’s Lead
Although Google is still the dominant force in both desktop and mobile search, the things that are being searched with this tool are changing.
Of course, you’ll go straight to the search giant if you want to know how long blue whales live, but if you’re looking for a fancy pair of shoes or a new home organizational system, as it turns out, you’re now more likely to go to Amazon. In 2015, Amazon beat out Google as the starting point customers used for product searches, with 38 percent of shoppers choosing Amazon and only 35 percent choosing Google.
Amazon hasn’t been totally oblivious to these changes, either. Over the last 18 months, it has been working hard on beefing up its search algorithms and developing different search products designed to help people find and buy more things on its site. For example, Amazon’s “product display ad” features product images and descriptions that relate to recent searches. So if a customer searches for “bicycles,” items like bicycle tires or accessories will also appear on a product display ad module.
The difference between Amazon search advertising and Google is that Amazon seeks to always redirect consumers to products within its own pages. Clearly, Amazon search has no ambition to become everything to everyone, but it is sending a message that it’s more important than ever for advertisers to take note of what’s happening on the giant eCommerce site, especially if they happen to be selling eCommerce products.
The same, however, could be said of Pinterest, which just launched search advertising. Pinterest search ads are still in a fairly early stage of development, with only some advertisers being granted the ability to weigh ads against keywords and other metrics through a partnership with Israel-based marketing company Kenshoo. Although it has long been known for its brand awareness-building prowess, the new Pinterest advertising tool has actually shown an ability to drive in-store sales, as well. This is certainly brow-raising news for brands that are looking for more ways to drive traffic to physical locations.
Search is Changing, But Should Your Campaign?
Knowing that there are some new players in the search arena shouldn’t be enough to spur a digital marketer to action, but when those search advertising tools are coming from big names like Amazon and targeted niche arenas like Pinterest, it’s something very different.
Amazon ads are not only a way to bring popular products to the forefront, they’re also a way to really help your shoppers find what they need with ease. Pinterest search ads may represent a rare opportunity to marry the virtual world with the real one, a massive task for most marketers.
Both companies have the potential to eat away at Google’s search dominance in a way that Bing could never dream of. Instead of acting as direct competition and only having search to offer, both Amazon and Pinterest started with something tangible that people wanted, then added paid search later.
Stop Advertising with Google?
You certainly shouldn’t stop advertising with Google or employing SEO if you’re already doing so, but going forward it may be a good idea to pay closer attention to some of the outlets that have been largely filed under miscellaneous or innovation budgets. Search is big business, but Google isn’t the only player in town anymore.
As customers become more sophisticated in their ability to find what it is that they really need online, some amount of clicks are going to be naturally drained away from Google. After all, why go hunting in the wilderness for dinner when they have it bagged and ready at the grocery store?