Search Updates: October 2020

Search Updates: October 2020

Bing Rebrands as ‘Microsoft Bing’

Microsoft rebranded its Bing search engine as ‘Microsoft Bing’ along with new colors and a new logo in a continued effort to integrate its search experience across the Microsoft family.

However, the branding seems to be inconsistent across their properties. For example, the Microsoft Bing search engine currently uses the new name but old logo.

This rebrand does not affect how we manage search campaigns. This was anticipated by many when they rebranded their SEM platform ‘Bing Ads’ to ‘Microsoft Ads’ last year. Some critics see this as a missed opportunity to rebrand as ‘Microsoft Search’. With this latest move, Microsoft seems intent to keep the Bing name around for the time being.

YouTube in Early Stages of Transforming Into a Shopping Site

Google is working on transforming YouTube into a shopping site according to a recent report from Bloomberg. According to eMarketer, 55% of consumers use videos to make purchase decisions and with this transformation, consumers will be able to directly purchase items they see in videos. Currently, consumers have to leave YouTube to another site to purchase an item they’ve watched in a video.

To gather information about products featured in videos, YouTube creators are being asked to tag and track products shown in their clips. The end goal is to turn YouTube’s video library into a product catalog where users can click on items they see and buy them directly. A YouTube spokesperson confirms to Bloomberg that creators will have control over which products are tagged in their videos.

Google is also in the process of testing integration with Shopify to sell products through YouTube. Google could monetize this opportunity by taking a percentage off of each transaction. Additionally, the consumer data collected by Google is valuable for advertising means.

This could potentially create a revenue opportunity for YouTube creators if they make a commission when viewers buy tagged products. On the other hand, viewers may question the authenticity of creators’ content if they’re suddenly making money from products they feature in their videos.

This is an exciting experiment to hear about because we are already running TrueView for Shopping for one of our clients that allows YouTube viewers to click through to our client’s product pages and lets consumers easily purchase items that are right in front of them on-screen. However, these latest tests give consumers the ability to directly purchase items they see in videos which could increase purchases because it removes an additional step before purchasing. A YouTube spokesperson confirmed the company is testing these features with a limited number of video channels. The company described this as an experiment and Google will not share any more information.

Justice Department Sues Google for Violating Antitrust Laws

The U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Google accusing Google of illegally protecting its monopoly over search and search advertising. The agency accuses Google of locking out the competition in search by obtaining several exclusive business contracts and agreements with Apple, mobile carriers, and other handset makers to place its search engine as the default option for consumers that accounts for 80% of its dominant market share in search. Google argues that it has strong competition in the search market with more consumers using Amazon to find information. Google also argued that there is nothing wrong with its agreements with Apple, other handset manufacturers, and carriers, comparing them to cereal brands paying for prominent placement on store shelves. It also said it was not difficult for consumers to switch default settings from Google to another search engine.

Google Chief Legal Officer, Kent Walker states:

“Today’s lawsuit by the Department of Justice is deeply flawed. People use Google because they choose to, not because they’re forced to, or because they can’t find alternatives.”

The lawsuit may go on for years. Google has long denied accusations of antitrust violations, and the company is expected to fight the government’s efforts. Google has fought similar antitrust lawsuits in Europe. The U.S. Justice Department spent more than a decade taking on Microsoft. The agency filed its lawsuit against the company in 1998 and the settlement was approved in 2002.

Amazon Grows as Google’s U.S. Ad Revenues are Forecast to Fall

Amazon’s DSP is driving more budgets during the pandemic while Google’s U.S. ad revenues are projected to fall this year for the first time since 2008 according to eMarketer.

A primary reason is Amazon has benefited from the COVID-19 pandemic as locked-down consumers ordered more products online. Whereas Google’s ad business isn’t as closely aligned with day-to-day shopping. Another reason is Amazon’s DSP product’s targeting data is becoming more valuable as Google sunsets third-party cookies in Chrome. This leaves an opening for Amazon to steal market share from Google by emphasizing their ability to leverage e-commerce data at scale to target ads.

Google still holds 30% of the U.S. online ad industry so we aren’t worried about clients spending less on Google. However, Amazon presents a real alternative to Google for brands wanting the benefits of performance advertising without the uncertainty of cookies. Therefore, we see this shift as an opportunity to continue adding Amazon to our search arsenal, specifically for our direct-to-consumer clients.