Lately we’ve spent a lot of time internally and with our clients talking about the future of search. When you look at how Google got beat up by the stock market for its "slowing results" and Facebook shows more than 70 percent of its revenue coming from mobile, you start to think about how ripe for disruption mobile search really is. Here are three arguments that point toward the future of search being vastly different than it is today and what it might look like.
Stock Market Pressure
Google’s 2014 earnings showed a 6 percent decrease in cost per click year-over-year. This caused the stock to tumble despite the fact that revenue increased by $2 billion quarter-over-quarter. Facebook’s market share driven by mobile is up to about 21 percent, according to eMarketer. The market is looking for Google’s core product to continue to grow, and while search volume is up the revenue per search is down mostly due to lower CPCs in mobile and the fact that brands are struggling to understand the business impact of mobile search. Our data shows that given lower CPCs that it would take about three clicks on mobile for every one click on desktop for Google to be able to monetize those searches at the same rate.
How This Will Impact the Future
The future will need to connect online and offline impact. The stock market pressure that Twitter, Google, Facebook, Pandora, and other publicly traded stocks face will require them to better understand the value of the mobile market place, with the goal of helping advertisers become able to demonstrate the impact of mobile and allocate funds. There are new vendors like Placed, Datalogix, Adometry, and others popping up all over to help solve this question.
Consumer habits have started to shift away from just using Google. Less than 50 percent of consumer time is spent on search engines on mobile devices. Also, now that most browsers share information in the cloud users have access to their preferences and search history across devices. Additionally, with the personal nature of mobile phones there is a unique user "fingerprint" that makes each phone yours. This includes location, contacts, social networks, and app use that helps inform what answer you might be looking for and what source of information will best provide it to you. For example, if you are looking for a restaurant, you might previously have to search on a desktop for Italian restaurant in downtown Cleveland. Now you can voice search "Italian restaurant" and your phone will quickly know that you use Yelp, your contacts all really like Mario’s, and you are within 2 miles of Mario’s and provide you with that recommendation. For someone else who uses OpenTable or Facebook, that recommendation and result would be completely different, but still equally as personalized.
How This Will Impact the Future
Ten blue links as a search result simply won’t do. Even with Remarketing List Ads for search the results you receive have still not gone far enough to satisfy the personal results that consumers are coming to expect. Search will need to include an understanding of you as a person and how you interact based on context clues (time of day, location, weather, etc…). These data points will help drive the change that consumers are beginning to expect.
Google Now is a great example of how the very idea of searching being reactive to a user query and moving toward providing data is a great example of the future possibilities. It is also possible we don’t even know this app or search provider today. Look at the valuations of companies that literally popped out of the blue - Snapchat, Instagram, Uber, Pinterest, etc… Companies are being built from the ground up in consumer behavior and data. This space is ripe for the same type of disruption and the future of search will be disruptive, predictive, and personalised.