The Google search post

Charles Arthur wrote an an interesting analysis piece on Google’s current business which I have linked to in the more information section called Google’s growing problem: 50% of people do zero searches per day on mobile.

According to Fortune, advertising counted for 90 per cent of Google’s revenue stream in 2014. By comparison Tencent makes just 17 per cent of its revenue from advertising; its revenue instead comes from payments  a la PayPal, premium accounts (brands pay for specialist facilities on WeChat for instance) virtual goods including gaming and stickers. Whilst Google has tried to diversify beyond advertising (payments, paid for content on YouTube, enterprise product sales), it has failed to change the balance of revenue. Any disruption of the advertising ecosystem represents a threat to their business.

The key points in Charles Arthur’s article:

  • Consumers are using apps on smartphones rather than searching for a given services (which puts to rest the app versus mobile web argument mobile developers have)
  • This will have a more pronounced effect as the world internet population starts to level out next year
  • New internet users in the developing world may not be worth having (from a commercial perspective ‘An ad click from the US/Germany/Japan/Taiwan can be worth from 5 cents to $1 depending on the day/season, but clicks from China/India/Brazil/Vietnam are worth fractions of a penny to maybe 1 penny’

Arthur’s assertions represent a huge change in consumer behaviour. Working for Yahoo! in the mid-naughties, we used to cite a Morgan Stanley quoted statistic that seven out of ten web journeys started with search. Search Engine Journal cites Forrester as the source of a claim that 93% of online experiences started with search.
Mobile application is just one part of a wider change:

  • Google started to see a decline in the growth rate of search volumes to about 10 per cent a year, yet the amount content to be indexed continues to rise on a non-linear scale
  • Whilst the internet usage has been expanded by cheaper broadband with wi-fi and the rise mobile devices (both feature phones and smartphones) there hasn’t been a universal adoption of the open web. Yes smartphones have apps which disrupts the open web, but in places like Indonesia a lot of new feature phone surfing netizens don’t realise they are online and only go as far as Facebook
  • Amazon has risen as a wide ranging threat to Google. If you want to buy a book, many people’s evoked set is to go on Amazon. Amazon is not only an e-tailer but a vertical search engine across an increasing number of retail categories. Eric Schmidt claimed that about 30 per cent of purchase web journeys started on Amazon, that represents a significant lost opportunity for Google

More information
Google’s growing problem: 50% of people do zero searches per day on mobile | The Overspill
10 Stats to Justify SEO | Search Engine Journal
Is Tencent leading the way or lagging behind Facebook? | Walk The Chat
In online search war, it’s Google vs. Amazon | Fortune
Google’s Eric Schmidt: “Really, Our Biggest Search Competitor Is Amazon” | Search Engine Land
Amazon Vs. Google: Understanding the buyer’s search engine | Wordtracker
Millions of Facebook users have no idea they’re using the internet | Quartz
Google Search Stats | Internet Live Stats