This week marks the 20th anniversary of Google, the digital search platform that has become synonymous with information gathering.
It’s hard to imagine a world without Google on hand now, particularly given the growth of smartphones, providing the capacity to search anything at any time, helping with product research, location information and settling friendly debates.
To mark the occasion, Google has announced a range of updates to its search tools, each with varying degrees of SEO relevance. Here’s a summary of what’s been announced, and what they mean for your digital strategy.
First off, Google’s adding a new listing of previously related searches via new Activity Cards.
If you’re a Mastercard holder in the US, Google has reportedly been tracking whether your buying habits are influenced by online ads in your offline purchases for the past year. The secret deal between the two companies was brokered after four years of negotiation, according to a Bloomberg report published today.
Neither Google nor Mastercard have publicly announced the partnership, and neither company let its customers know that their offline purchases made in stores are being tracked through Mastercard purchase histories and correlated with online ad interactions. Both Google and Mastercard say that the data is anonymized in order to protect personally identifiable information.
Google reportedly paid Mastercard millions of dollars for data on what people have been buying. It used that data to build a tool for advertisers that would break down whether people who had clicked online ads later went on to purchase a product at a physical retail store.
Bloomberg reported in detail how the process works. It starts with a customer who’s logged into a Google account on the web clicking a Google ad. That person browses a certain item, but doesn’t purchase it. Later on, if they use their MasterCard to buy that item in a physical store within 30 days, Google will send the advertiser a report about that product and the effectiveness of its ads, with a section for “offline revenue” listing the retail sales.
Google and Facebook — the world’s biggest online ad companies — could see their share of U.S. digital advertising decline for the first time, thanks to slowing growth and competition from the likes of Amazon and Snap.
Google’s share is expected to decline from 38.6 percent last year to 37.2 percent in 2018, according to digital measurement firm eMarketer, while Facebook could shrink slightly from 19.9 to 19.6 percent.
Meanwhile, Amazon’s ad business is expected to grow to nearly 3 percent of the market in that same period from 2 percent last year, for a total of $2.9 billion in ad revenue for 2018. Snap’s share of the ad market is expected to grow from 0.6 percent last year to 1 percent this year. Both Amazon and Snap ad shares are expected to grow through 2020.
After months of testing, Google is opening its business messaging platform, Hangouts Chat, to everyone. The Slack-like service for team communication is now open to all of the company’s business customers who use its G Suite services.
Hangouts Chat, first unveiled nearly a year ago, is a lot like Slack in that teams can communicate in group chat and one-to-one messages. It also supports integrations with third-party apps and bots.
Google is a relatively late entrant to the business-messaging software game. At this point, Slack and Microsoft, with its Teams app, both have significant head-starts. But there are a few areas where Google is hoping to differentiate itself from the competition.
By being directly integrated into all the Google services businesses are already using, like Drive and and Google Calendar, Hangouts Chat can streamline tasks like file sharing and scheduling meetings. For example, Google’s meeting-scheduling bot will be able to automatically schedule team meetings based on each person’s calendar.
Google has a total of 25 bots available on Hangouts Chat today — far fewer than the thousands that Slack has — but that number is likely to rise now that the service has reached general availability.
Hangouts Chat is available now to all G Suite users on desktop and iOS and Android in 28 languages.