Search Beyond Google: 3 Emerging Trends Every Marketer Should Be Watching

By David DeSimone, Associate Director, Client Solutions, at Varick

Given that Google maintains nearly 90 percent market share in this arena, I sometimes get funny looks when I talk to clients about exploring paid search opportunities beyond Google. “Why would I do that?” they ask. But search is far from a stagnant channel. How people search for information and products will undergo dramatic transformations in the coming 12-18 months. Let’s look at three emerging search trends that warrant close observation.

Amazon Rising

There are very few areas where Google has lost ground in recent years, but product search is one of them. Amazon’s ascent in the realm of paid search is just getting started. Advertisers should consider the following:

  • A brand’s existing keyword list in Google can translate seamlessly to Amazon. After all, people today are searching on Amazon the same way they search on Google—and that means unbranded as well as branded terms.
  • From a UI standpoint, Amazon remains in its infancy stage when compared to the buttons and levers Google provides to search advertisers—but that’s going to change. As Amazon’s UI catches up, the level of granularity available to advertisers will become borderline frightening.
  • Right now, Amazon’s search capabilities exist at the product level and are confined to its own site. But if Amazon decides to break the wall of user experience by drawing in third-party sources to assist people who doing higher-funnel research, that would be a (very plausible) game-changer for advertisers.

Bing’s Hidden Superpower

With only about 4 percent market share in search, Bing is disregarded by many advertisers today based on its lack of scale. But with 1.3 billion unique monthly visitors and a lucrative U.S. user profile (mostly people between ages 45 and 54, in households that earn more than $100,000 annually), it still warrants attention.

And then there’s Bing’s LinkedIn profile targeting. It’s always been hard for B2B marketers to distinguish professional interest from personal use or research inquiries within search. Bing’s LinkedIn profile targeting, though only in beta, solves for this by overlaying industry, title and company information over known searchers. For the right brands, this could be huge.

Voice’s Tipping Point

I’d be negligent to not mention voice when talking about search trends to watch. This is the area where I field the most questions but, to date, we have not seen brands embrace this medium in the same way they do with keyword targeting. Voice is still very much in test mode. But never underestimate how quickly these things can reach a tipping point. When voice search and shopping hit that point, the immediate spoils will go to the early adopters.

Without a doubt, Google still dominates the world of search. Brands must be there because, well, every other brand is—and therein lies the rub. It’s very difficult to get a leg up in traditional paid search through Google these days; it’s more about maintaining status quo. For those marketers looking for their next true competitive advantage, it can pay—literally—to think beyond Google.

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Platform Watch: Amazon’s Latest Moves to Forge a Triopoly

March 2019 • Kait Boulos

Media platform conversations for the past decade have been dominated by two names: Google and Facebook, that infamous Duopoly. But recently around the same time, we’ve also started to hear a new name being whispered in these conversations: Amazon. Could the lurking giant really up its advertising game to become the third can’t-miss advertising play in the U.S. market? And if so, what does that mean for advertisers within today’s platform-centric world?

The past week’s headlines would suggest that, yes, Amazon is driving toward a Triopoly it can. And possibly faster than anyone expected. From an advertiser’s point of view, that’s not a bad thing. New points of entry to Amazon’s lucrative, well-known audience are welcome additions to the advertiser’s arsenal—particularly as it helps to disperse the overwhelming amount of audience control that resides with Google and Facebook alone. That said, it does require today’s marketers to expand their platform expertise beyond the now well-trod Google and Facebook interfaces.

On one hand, eMarketer just issued (another) upwards revision on Amazon ad revenue estimates for both past and future years. According to the research firm, Amazon ad revenue is expected to grow to $15 billion in 2020—nearly 10 percent of the U.S. digital ad market.

At the same time, Amazon is making interesting moves in the ad product realm as well. Just last week, the company unveiled Amazon Moments, a new venture that enables brands to reward customers when they reach certain milestones on their owned apps or sites. It’s an interesting spin on rewarded advertising that lets companies incentivize the actions that matter most to them (e.g., renewals, first purchases, etc.) by giving customers something they truly value (i.e., a discount or free item that shows up on their front steps in that well-known Amazon packaging).

Finally, it’s worth noting that Amazon’s moves into the Duopoly’s territory extend beyond traditional digital advertising. The company is also investing — and at last making progress — in the gaming world, with the recent unveiling of its New World multiplayer sandbox online game. Suffice it to say, Amazon has a lot of eggs, and they’re going in a lot of baskets.

At the same time, user attention is migrating away from Facebook, and Google is undergoing yet another brand safety crisis on YouTube. Increasingly, it would seem that the future of platform power extends beyond content alone (and the perils that come with it). Amazon gives us a glimpse of what a future platform titan might look like: one that goes beyond social media and entertainment to offer a unified platform that delivers complete experiences as its service.

As the concentration of power within the Duopoly continues to disperse, the need for both deep and wide platform understanding has become a top imperative for today’s media buyers. It’s a different world, and it takes a different kind of approach to drive brand awareness, customer engagement and revenue growth. At Varick, we are the Platform Media Experts. And we’re here to help.

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