October 16, 2017

Google and the disintermediation of search


Many of what would once have been Google searches are now pre-empted by other apps and services before the user ever reaches Google.

Here are just a few longer-term examples:

- Apps: whereas users once used Google as a starting point to reach a variety of websites, they’re far more likely today to visit smartphone apps associated with those sites. To the extent that there’s any searching going on, it likely takes place within the narrower confines of those apps or perhaps an on-device search engine.

- E-commerce: for online retail specifically, past studies have shown that some 55% of searches now originate not on Google.com but on Amazon.com, again cutting Google and its search and ad revenues out of the picture (and in the process allowing Amazon to quietly build its own search advertising business.

- Voice: people are increasingly using voice interfaces to search for information they once used a text search for, both on mobile devices and increasingly on smart voice speakers like Amazon’s Echo and Google’s own Home products. In many of these cases, even on Google’s platform, there’s currently no ad revenue opportunity associated with that.

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