One is the world’s largest search engine and the other is the world’s largest web store. At first, you might think that these two internet giants are not competitors of each other. But if you zoom in, you will discover considerable overlap in the services provided by both parties. Google is no longer a simple search engine, and Amazon is not a simple web store. Both have become data powerhouses that are developing crazy products and services with all their resources and large amounts of data. This article, therefore, focuses on the battle between Google and Amazon and how this, through voice search, can cause a disruption in the search market.
Although you may not expect it, Google and Amazon are direct competitors to each other. Just look at the following services that both giants offer.
Overlap in services
What services do both Google and Amazon offer?
1. Amazon Web Services versus Google Cloud Platform
One of Amazon’s showpieces is Amazon Web Services (AWS). This service makes it possible to use a large amount of server power and services from Amazon such as a government, company or private person on a subscription basis. The direct competitor is Google Cloud Platform (GCP), one of the fastest growing divisions within Google.
2. Google Shopping versus Amazon
Not to be missed is, of course, Google Shopping. For many e-commerce parties, the most successful / most important channel for generating a turnover. Amazon is seen as one of the largest search engines for finding products and is, therefore, a major threat to Google Shopping.
3. Alexa versus Google Assistant
And what about the digital assistants, Alexa and the Google Assistant ? These are available via various devices, but are mainly activated via voice-activated speakers. In America 1 in 5 households already has a voice-activated digital assistant, and voice search already accounts for a large proportion of the total number of searches.
Currently, Amazon Echo is responsible for 72 percent of the market share , but Google is catching up. The fact that both companies soon have a cheaper variant on the market, shows that the two companies compete to become your digital assistant. Amazon is leading the way in so-called Skills , where third parties can develop applications based on Alexa. Google has a generous advantage when it comes to the knowledge graph (providing information).
Compete on the search market
These are just a few examples of the overlap between Amazon and Google, but there are certainly more to think about. It is clear that voice search influences the competition between these two titans. The question of how this impacts on search can be answered in several ways. I, therefore, like to zoom in on the following 2 topics:
- Digital assistants and voice search
- E-commerce search
Digital assistants and voice search
Voice search feels a bit like the new mobile first. But admittedly, we live today in a world where the smartphone is the most important source of information. Who would have expected 11 years ago when the first iPhone was presented by Apple?
According to the predictions we now move towards an AI- first world in which digital assistants are our new source of information. This is possible because both the global computer power has increased enormously, and because we as a consumer produce more data. This means that the digital assistants know more and more about us. And so we can better assess what we need. Digital assistants are currently mainly controlled by voice. A logical reasoning is that with the increase in the number of digital assistants in households, the number of voice search searches will also increase. If we are to believe ComScore, in 2020 even 50 percent of all searches will be done via voice .
Looking at the current landscape, it is true that, in my view, the digital assistants are mainly used for the following issues:
- Information provision
- Controlling IoT devices (such as smart lights, a smart thermostat, smart IP cameras, etcetera)
- Setting up reminders, timers, etcetera
Disruption in search?
Maybe now, but both Google and Amazon are working hard to make it easier to develop applications based on the digital assistant. Amazon calls this Skills and at Google, this is called Actions . These services make it possible for companies to make many more commercial applications. See Expedia’s example below, in collaboration with Amazon’s Alexa:
After seeing the video above, you may have a better idea of how digital assistants and voice search can be a disruption for search as we know it today. Instead of looking for car rental companies yourself and comparing these companies, Expedia and Alexa do this for you. My estimation is that with the increase in the number of digital assistants the number of Skills and Actions, we are increasingly looking for information ourselves. I predict that information reaches us faster and more effectively when we need it.
E-commerce and voice search
It is also possible to make e-commerce orders via the digital assistant. Do you do this via the Amazon Echo? Then you order the products automatically via Amazon. Google’s answer to this is Google Shopping Actions that allows the same link through the Google Assistant. In this situation you automatically order via the Google Express Store where you as an e-commerce party can place your products. One big difference with Google Shopping is that the entire process goes through the Google Express Store, and not through the advertiser’s website. For that reason, you as an advertiser also pay on the basis of a pay-per-sale model instead of a pay-per-click model. This is again comparable to … Amazon. You guessed it :).
Google Assistant almost launched
It is clear that both Amazon and Google want to claim a large share as possible as your personal digital assistant. Although the Amazon Echo is currently the most sold, Amazon feels the hot breath of Google in the neck. This is due to the large distribution of the Google Assistant (via smartphone) and the amounts of data available with Google to improve the assistant.
Amazon is responsible for 44 percent (!) Of e-commerce revenue , it appears that in 29 percent of cases consumers start their orientation on Amazon instead of via a search engine:
Amazon now has such a large offer that it can serve as an e-commerce search engine for consumers. Since many consumers already know that they get the best deal via Amazon, it is logical for them to search directly at Amazon for certain products. This creates a sort of snowball effect in which as an advertiser you become increasingly dependent on offering your products on Amazon. And by offering your products on Amazon, the success rate of finding the right products on Amazon is also growing.
How does this cause a disruption in search?
As an e-commerce search engine, Amazon is a big threat to Google, because Amazon can ensure that fewer people make product-related searches via Google. This means that Google is getting less revenue from this type of search. In doing so, it can ensure that advertisers achieve less and less result from search and marketing budgets shift to other channels. Who knows, we will soon be living in a world where we have Google’s search engine for more information needs, and Amazon for product-related needs. But of course, this is purely hypothetical.
On the eve of a revolution
In recent years, search has undergone major changes. Mainly because as a consumer we have access to search via smartphones at any time of the day. With the increasing adoption and availability of digital assistants and voice search, we are currently on the verge of a revolution. A radical change that can have a major impact on how we consume information and how we interact with companies. For the time being it is speculation, but at least I am enthusiastic about what this disruption of search can bring about.