May 20, 2015

Why Buy Now Via Google is Bad for Your Brand

Google's quest for market share is bad for you

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By now, everyone knows that Google is going to integrate a “buy now” option in search results. And by now, everyone in marketing has issued a hot take. Most of those hot takes revolve around how it’s either great or foolish for Google. Nobody seems to talk about the stores behind this system. I wrote a while ago, that this was the logical next step for the search empire. They had to focus on keeping people coming to Google and staying there longer. The only way to do that, is to integrate more and more services.

But the problem is, this will likely hurt a lot of retailers. The reason is simple, and I’m not even going to do my usual 3,000 rambling to explain it. If people are buying through Google, that’s the same to them as buying from Google. They’re no longer visiting your site. They definitely don’t care about your store, as long as you ship the right product quickly. That means they won’t browse your cross-sells, they won’t see how your seasonal inventory changes, they won’t sign up for your newsletter. You don’t exist anymore. Only Google.

While Amazon merchants face a similar challenge, most people treat Amazon as just one channel. It’s a portion of their sales. In the case of Google, so many sites will get 60-80% of their customers through search (paid & organic). And even with our still archaic attribution modeling options, it’s easy to imagine that remaining 20-40% that’s built of direct, email, social, etc would be drastically reduced if search didn’t serve as the initial touch point.

So Google is making this move as part of their quest for domination, but also out of fear. Sure, they want you to use your Google phone/tablet to connect to Google Fiber, logged in with your GMail account, searching and buying exclusively through By the way, all the while using a Chromecast to watch some Google Play movies on your big screen. But they also are afraid. They’re afraid that if people really enjoy your website, they might go directly there next time and bypass Google completely. And maybe that adds up over time and global search volume drops a few points, along with Google’s stock price. That’s bad for them. The problem is, Google is so big and powerful, they can actively prevent that. Not by being better or more engaging than you, but just by changing the rules of how we use the internet.

Good luck standing out in that world.

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