Bypassing the Google Tax

In 2023, Google and Amazon will rake in a staggering $57 billion and $24 billion in ad revenues from search, leaving competitors in the dust.  

This digital duopoly has left marketers heavily dependent on their platforms, making search marketing both necessary for success... and a massive headache. 


Boosting SEM effectiveness + reducing Google dependence

Each week, we break down another marketing concept so you can skip the hype and get directly to what works. 

The importance of search engine marketing is undeniable. It's a gateway to connecting with consumers actively seeking your product or service. And Google and Amazon lead the way through. 

However, the search landscape is shifting. Recent antitrust trials involving Google and Amazon demonstrate marketers’ frustration with their dependence on the platforms. And new players in the space like TikTok and ChatGPT threaten to start stealing share from the category leaders. 

Understanding the Google Antitrust Trial 

In a court battle with the government, Google was accused of violating antitrust laws by employing aggressive tactics to maintain its hold on the search market. Witnesses from Verizon, Samsung, and even Google itself testified that the tech giant spends a staggering $10 billion annually to secure its position as the default search engine on smartphones and browsers. This, they argue, has led to higher costs for advertisers.  

Google defended its search product by asserting that its quality has earned it the top spot, and dissatisfied users have the freedom to switch. Apple, which uses Google as its default search engine, backed this stance.  

Amazon's Antitrust Lawsuit 

Meanwhile, Amazon faces its own antitrust lawsuit. The allegation? Preventing sellers from offering lower prices on other platforms, choking competition. Amazon does own 40% of the US ecommerce market, and the FTC is working to establish Amazon's monopoly status. 

However, Amazon faces a growing number of competitors, including Walmart, Shein, Etsy, and Shopify. These new players could challenge Amazon’s dominance down the road. 


Reducing Dependence on Search 

For many marketers, investing millions in paid search feels like an unavoidable cost of competing online. But there are strategies to lessen brands’ dependence on search while driving more impactful outcomes. 

Building a robust brand presence across multiple channels, especially TV advertising, can improve search’s effectiveness in a few ways.  

  1. A well-known brand drives more direct traffic. If people know of your solution before they’re in-market to buy, they’re more likely to type your URL into their search bar instead of searching for your category in general when they eventually are in-market. Plus, the more people search directly for your brand, the more platforms like Google recognize you as a leader.

  2. Branded search terms cost less than generic ones. Even if consumers aren’t typing in your exact URL, getting them to search a branded term has huge benefits. For example, thanks to TV building its brand awareness, Terminix was able to reduce search costs by getting more people to search ‘Terminix’ over the more general ‘termite.’ 

  3. TV offers another option when search is underperforming. By diversifying your marketing mix, you create alternative sources for new customers when search isn’t meeting your goals. Because while TV is great at building brand, it can also drive performance results. 

Key Takeaway: SEM is undergoing a transformation. Marketers must adapt to thrive in this dynamic environment—and should probably work to reduce their reliance on the channel in the first place. 

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