Google as we know it will change
It is not from an invasion of AI search. I have looked at Google’s more recent attempt to have a conversation rather than simply answer a question. While it is fun, I cannot see anyone using it at work.
No the changes that Google are going to impact is more authoritarian.
Google is basically an advertising company. Search is it vehicle for showing you adverts both on its Google.com platform and on YouTube.
But there has been a problem. More and more advertisers are leaving Google Ads. As of Q4 2023, Google’s earnings has grown 3.35% year over year. Whilst Ad revenue is up 11% YOY, the main increase is from YouTube Ads. Advertisers are no longer flocking to Google!
Well, to sell advertising effectively, Google, Facebook, and Twitter, for example, rely on data. They love to track and create personas. More.
This is nothing new. However, what is new is that Facebook’s data, for example, is seen as more accurate than Google’s. It is true. That does not matter; what matters is that advertisers perceive that the data is more reliable.
Does this mean that advertisers pull their Google Ads? No, not all; it just means they will pay less per click. There is also another problem. Traffic.
Again the perception is that Google is just a means of getting from a digital A to B. In contrast, social media platforms are seen as destinations. People live on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. No one lives on Google!
So social media traffic is real people with time to window shop and buy. They are in the comfort of their own homes. They are being influenced by god knows who. There are no influencers on Google. The blog is long dead.
So what can Google do?
To gain credibility, Google must do exactly what the other platforms do. They need to insist on logging in. Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook all heavily restrict access to information forcing you with prompts to log into your account. No membership, then bye-bye.
As Google is not “social media”, it has not seen any reason to do this. Google Accounts have been around for 15 years, but they are not a prerequisite to using Google to search.
The massive change we will see is that Google will start prompting you to log into your account. This has already started in 2023-24. Where the change will be is that just like the other platforms, Google will give you a small amount of time to search, and then BAM will force you to log in.
Once you log in, just like all other ‘membership’ platforms, you are no longer an anonymous web surfer. You are a person. The beauty of people is that they are consumers; they buy stuff. If Google can turn to advertisers and say look, the quality of my customer data has just gone through the roof, I can tell you the names of my users, where they live, age, income and when they browse, then advertisers will sit up and listen. That data is worth way more.
Remember the founders of Google have long gone. All of the original Googlers have cashed out. The CEO is Sundar Pichai. He is a businessman. Google has always had to keep increasing his salary to keep him. He is money-orientated and, like all other CEOs, has shareholders to keep happy. Sundar is into technology, he helped create Chrome, he help launch Andriod, in fact he did lots of amazing things at Google, none of them related to Search. I doubt he believes in the sanctity of search or that Google should always “do no evil”.
Prabhakar Raghavan is the Vice President of Google. Interestingly he is head of Search and Ads. Before he came to Google, he worked at Yahoo! responsible for Search, and we know how that ended. Enough said.
What do Google’s changes mean to me?
Look if you are forced to log in then a platform can tailor content to what it believes you want to see. You can easily see how Facebook and YouTube give you more of what you watch. All of them are spying on you, seeing where you attention is. Instagram is timing you on each post: which ones you click on, YouTube shorts, which ones you watch, and which ones you skip.
They think they are being clever and in a narrow world of mindless entertainment in a way they are.
However, once Google jumps on board, then there are problems.
We use Google differently. Google claims it has never seen over 18% of search queries on any given day. (Mitchell, Jon. “How Google Search Really Works.” Readwrite. February 29, 2012.) If this is true and Google starts feeding us search results (and ads) it thinks we want to see, then the whole purpose of using Google as a discovery tool to find out new and amazing things become redundant.
Who hasn’t reset their YouTube app to get fresh content or created a new Amazon Prime account because the suggested films are all the same? This is what will happen to Google. We will be forced into creating new Google accounts to be free to find new information, not the junk that Google wants us to see.
The end result
Another means of searching the internet will become high technology, and Prabhakar’s Google Search will go the way of Yahoo Search.