Why Google Search is starting to look more like Social Media
Obviously, Google remains the number one name in search, by a wide margin. But Snapchat and Pinterest, as well as heavier hitters like Instagram, are beginning to make moves for Google’s precious ad dollars in ways that make the search giant uncomfortable.
Social media is absorbing search
For younger people, Google’s stranglehold on search doesn’t mean as much. Teenagers are spending as much as nine hours a day on social media, which means those platforms have plenty of time to capture the attention of those users and direct them towards products.
For example, Snapchat is now partnering with Amazon on a new image-based shopping feature. Take a picture of something you might want to buy—clothes, hair products, food items—and a pop-up menu on Amazon will appear, allowing you to buy that item (or something like it) directly from their online store.
Pinterest also has a visual search function, where users can take photos using their smartphone and browse the Pinterest database of Pins with that image. And taking a photo of a tomato won’t just show you more tomatoes, but smart results like recipes.
Looking ahead, Instagram is developing a standalone shopping app that will let users browse and buy things directly from brands and sellers. Facebook will likely have something similar as well on their app.
So all of these developments beg the question: If younger users can search for everything they need using the apps they already frequent for hours a day, what would compel them to go to Google instead?
Google isn’t sitting back and finding out, but instead transforming their look to match what people appear to want from social media these days.
Search goes social
Remember Google+? This isn’t like that: Google already tried their hand at creating a social network and failed.
But Google is reinventing their search results to look more like they would if you were using a social media platform. There will be more photos, videos, a personalized “Discover” feed (sound like Instagram’s “Explore” much?), more Stories populated by AI, and better use of their own Lens tool.
According to Mashable, all of this is being done expressly to appeal to younger audiences, who aren’t as text-focused and may not see the appeal of the old-school format of search results. The lucrative nature of ad dollars will compel Google to continue tweaking their formula in the service of capturing that audience.
Who knows—maybe this is how Google+ makes a comeback? (Probably not.)