Today’s front page New York Times article marks the end of Google’s brand dominance. For years, Google managed to wrap its Search Advertising monopoly with brilliant PR and a noble brand. This era now ends, in large part because Google is so dominant in its core Search Advertising business that it must move outside that business to grow. As it does so, it threatens an entirely new set of companies that plan to fight back.
Certain industries felt the pain from Google all along. The newspaper industry complained about the migration of “print dollars” to “digital dimes.” In reality, print dollars migrated to Google dollars – with only some spare change tossed back at the newspapers’ website advertising. Our work at Three Ships in higher education marketing has given us a front row seat to the show. We estimate that Google makes more profit from the higher education industry than the total profit of the entire industry.
Google’s robust Search advertising business spews forth billions of dollars in profits each year. Google’s leadership has happily poured some of these billions into everything from building self-driving cars to funding venture capital firms. The strategy is courageous, but it is also risky. The accompanying news coverage will shed light on how Google produces these profits – largely through building toll roads to company’s websites. With the increasing media scrutiny, we expect regulatory pressure to only increase in the US and abroad. Regardless, these forces are already shaping Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and will continue to do so in the years to come. We’ll stay tuned.