Google Search expansion could be a wake-up call for marketers

Google shared more details about how it’s expanding search beyond the traditional text bar at its third annual Search On event on Wednesday. Richer offerings related to visual, linguistic and multimedia search are intended to create a “natural and intuitive” experience that is more in line with how people actually think, the executives said.

“Already, research with text is essential. Now the era of visual search has arrived,” said Prabhakar Raghavan, senior vice president of Google, to launch the broadcast live presentation. “A camera is not just a content creation device. It’s a powerful way to access information and understand the world around you.

The changes also come as the tech giant – the top dog in the search category – grapples with younger consumers flocking to mobile apps focused on video and creators like TikTok when crawling the web as brands follow suit.

“It’s no secret that TikTok is Gen Z’s favorite search platform for everything from food to beauty products to clothes,” he said. Noah Dorros, an analyst at Gartner, via email. “So Google understands what drives consumers to platforms like TikTok, and is evolving accordingly – hence this move towards more natural and intuitive exploration with media search.”

Time will tell how well Google’s new ideas stick, but the company has a suite of products, from Maps to its Lens camera technology, that could be powerful when combined for search purposes. For marketers who have continued to prioritize text-based tactics, Search On could serve as a wake-up call.

“Brands that continue to focus on text search are doing their digital marketing plans a disservice by not fully understanding how people consume information today,” Dorros said. “The focus on strictly text-based strategies will eventually drive marketers and, therefore, consumers out of sight, to brands that stand at the forefront and optimize these strategic initiatives. multimedia.”

New ways to query

One of the ways Google advances its basic text search is by predicting what a person might be interested in based on general queries. In one example highlighted on the show, someone planning a trip to Mexico might receive an auto-fill suggestion with greater specificity, such as “Mexico’s best cities for families,” and then view Oaxaca on a list of recommendations. Rather than just displaying the location and a static image, clicking on the result highlights relevant information such as user-generated content posted on other platforms regarding the city.

For the food category, consumers looking for particular dishes will now be able to bring up nearby restaurants with the exact meal they are looking for rather than browsing menus individually. Google is also trying to make digital menus easier to navigate and more information-rich, as well as providing a more in-depth view of what restaurants have to offer beyond fixed star ratings, such as descriptions of the atmosphere, interior photos and more immersive Maps views.

“Some of us grew up using the web in a way where you type in a restaurant query or things like that, but that’s really not how the new generation of users might interact with products. “, said Sophia Lin, director and general. head of Google’s food vertical, in a pre-show interview.

Multisearch – a feature introduced earlier this year that allows users to apply text and image queries simultaneously – has been promoted as another way to improve web deep dives. Multiple search near me, which overlays an additional location-based element identifying nearby locations containing what the user is looking for, will become more widely available in English later this fall.

Google is at the same time expand its commercial footprint, adding features such as 3D models for sneakers; a trending product page; a shop-the-look format; more personalized recommendations; and buying guides for high consideration purchases. These developments show how Google could generate more interest from categories of merchants making the leap to digital strategies and eager for omnichannel, a shift that has accelerated under the pandemic.

“We have been exploring food for a very long time. Restaurants are one of the most common queries we’ve received for years and years,” Lin said. “What’s different now is how advanced machine learning has become, as well as multitasking. What we were really looking at is how we can adapt technology to make the search experience of a much easier food.

Looking for growth

Google’s Quest to Revamp search beyond the usual list of blue links comes as some of its major commercial engines encounter headwinds. YouTube, its video sharing platform, is in a rut and invest heavily in a new TikTok-like format called Shorts. Search and other bets remain Google’s biggest revenue generator, bringing in $40.69 billion in the second quarter, but ad growth generally slows in a difficult macroeconomic environment and increased competition.

Beyond TikTok, consumers are turning to other sites to find things, which could pose a long-term problem for Google. Amazon is the main online shopping hub and has aggressively moved into ads, intensifying its rivalry with Google. People looking for in-depth community-led discussions more frequently rely on sites like Reddit, a potential result of dissatisfaction with Google search. At Search On, Google has unveiled a new dedicated “Discussions & Forums” tab that will appear alongside existing ones for categories like news and images.

“There’s no doubt that Google is keeping the pulse on its growing competitors, especially given how quickly the [digital] the progress of the landscape – anything less than that wouldn’t have allowed them to be the leading search engine today,” Dorros said.

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