So much quibbling among the SEOs about how Bing is stealing traffic from Google or how Yahoo! isn’t what it once was.
Ten years ago, I worked at Yahoo! And while I’d be tempted to chime in on this tempest in a teapot, they’re missing the point.
That’s me with Jerry and David, who co-founded Yahoo!
People are increasingly spending their time in apps and in closed gardens.
Facebook kicked out Bing, which powered their search, in favor of their own search.
Do you think Amazon is going to let Google ever power their search results?
How about letting Google into your very personal Snapchat experience?
The search game as we know it is over– Google has won with a dominant monopoly position.
The old-timers will argue that Yandex’s 55% share in Russia or Baidu in China at 56% means there’s still competition.
Or maybe they’ll point out how search is still strong and getting more personalized.
But what they miss is that personalization technology, no matter how awesome, is only as good as the amount and quality of the underlying data.
The social network and app economy have far more data than the search engine does– they have no incentive to share it.
In the long run, whoever has the most robust data about users will do a better job personalizing.
That creates ad revenue, which allows the network to invest in more features (things like Gmail or driving cars) and better ad tech.
It’s not that Google is going to be dead or that search is going the way of the print yellow pages.
It’s that search has reached maturity, so Google is having to do things like to invest in wearables and Uber.
It’s less about buggy whips and more about Innovator’s Dilemma.
So don’t be like the old geezers sitting on the front porch swapping war stories.
Make sure you know who your customers are, independent of the keywords they search, social networks they hang out on, apps they use, videos they play, brands they like, or places they visit.
The sites/apps/things that they frequent will be the ones providing self-serve ad interfaces allowing you to target exactly these people.
Right now, Facebook has the most profile information and user activity, so they’re the current winner in targeted personalization.
But you know that Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and even Apple have released their own targeted ad platforms, fueled by their user behavior.
A keyword is not a user
The search engine doesn’t remember what you’ve done last time– you get the same answer each time.
When you set up your marketing automation properly, you’re able to snipe the demand well before it ever becomes a search.
So when we start to see search decline, you’ll know why– it’s like an ounce of prevention versus a pound of cure.
And the cost to both acquire and keep customers via inbound marketing is much cheaper than paying full price at the last minute when the customer finally needs it.