There’s a secret war brewing – one that, if successful, will shift billions of dollars of media spending while upending the norm of how marketers reach consumers today. It’s the war on search, a war whose most interesting battle will be the one Google is waging against itself.
The growth of mobile and GPS is only one element of this plan. With precise location contributing to the precision of the predictive analytics and the marketing of products based on what Google knows about you as a person – you will receive customized results. In fact this technology will minimize or reduce the need for searching at all.
In late September, Google released what may prove to be an early prototype of such a service with its Field Trip app, now available for Android, with an iOS release coming. The app proactively serves tips about local restaurants and bars, architecture, historic places and offers. Google has an outsized advantage when it comes to fine-tuning recommendations, given its experience and leadership in search, display and mapping coupled with running the world’s most popular smartphone operating system. Google is also exploring other business models that may diminish its cash cow of search engine marketing. The bet that Google is making is that consumer behavior will shift so Google needs to stay relevant and profitable.
Starting roughly around 2010, that began to jump from 5% to 10% to 20% to the point now where for just about any brand and category, the mobile volume is clearly significant – and for some it rivals desktop volume. It was the embodiment of the sleeping giant phenomenon. Could predictive recommendations be the next one? Search is too ingrained as part of user behavior to disappear overnight. But recall that in 1990, the World Wide Web didn’t even exist and barely anyone was familiar with the Internet. In 2000, browsing directories was still a common way to navigate the internet, and Google had just barely transitioned from a research project to a company. By 2010, search became enmeshed in how people consume media and make purchases. Google seems to be preparing for such a scenario that might happen in another 7 years. Marketers looking to make long-term plans should keep this in mind.