Changing Face of Search: What Google’s Updates Mean For The Future of Search Advertising

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Usually when Google makes changes, it’s a “helpful content update” largely confined to backend revisions to its algorithms. These changes help their overall product and, in turn, our searches, but they’re not obvious to the eye.

But last week, at the company’s Search On event, Google showcased AI advancements that will give its features a more visual experience. And how that experience compares to other companies vying for slices of the Search pie might have a significant effect on Google’s dominant take of advertising spend.

More Visual, More Intuitive

Google’s changes will put a focus on images and video, a clear attempt to better target younger audiences. Its app’s home screen will feature more tools next to the search bar as well as more buttons geared for immediate user-actions, like camera-enabled text translation. Search capabilities will also be added to Live View, which uses a phone’s camera to overlay arrows and direction (and, ultimately, searchable results) to the world within your ever-moving frame.

“We’re going far beyond the search box to create search experiences that work more like our minds, and that are as multidimensional as we are as people,” says Google senior vice president Prabhakar Raghavan.

TikTok, Instagram, and the Search Battles

Google’s announcement comes hot on the heels of a recent statement by Raghavan acknowledging other players in the Search game. “In our studies, something like almost 40% of young people, when they’re looking for a place for lunch, they don’t go to Google Maps or Search,” he said during a summer conference. “They go to TikTok or Instagram.”

TikTok itself just recently announced a major change in allowing more characters in creator posts. What began as 150 characters allowed per post will be increased to 2,200 characters, a leap that’s “massive in terms of TikTok’s plans for becoming a search engine,” according to social media consultant and industry analyst Matt Navarra.

MediaPost says TikTok’s character-count increase allows them to “broaden and improve on its ad targeting capabilities, especially as the advertising industry continues to eliminate cookies in browsers to protect consumer privacy.”

And it’s right there where the even-slight advancements in search have so much relevance to publishers and advertisers.

The Future of Search Ad Spending

As Insider Intelligence spells out, “the more consumers search elsewhere, the harder it is for Google to maintain its share of search ad spending.” Insider Intelligence forecasts Google’s share of worldwide search ad revenue to drop from 59.4% to 56% by 2024, particularly as “much of that spend occurs on mobile, where again, younger users gravitate to TikTok and over index.”

Search ad spending in the U.S. was $55.9 billion in 2019, and is expected to double to $111.8 billion by next year.

As publishers, you already have the skills to take on Google and other goliaths at their advertising games. How would a Searchable world outside of Google affect your publication? Let us know in the comments below, and stay posted on all matters publishing and advertising with The Magazine Manager Blog.


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