Google Growth Slows as Card-linking and New Digital Ad Players Gain
Google reported sharply slowing revenue growth for its digital ads business as new competitors including card-linked marketing platforms and Amazon, Walmart.com gain traction. Google’s first quarter revenues were up 17% year-over-year, compared with 26% in last year’s first quarter. Google’s performance was in sharp contrast to Amazon that achieved record growth in its latest quarter.
For most of Google’s existence, it has been both the largest and fastest growing digital advertising platform in the world. That seems to be changing. Google’s search ad platform has come under intense pressure as merchants and CPG companies re-evaluate spending so much on Google online ads when 90% of their sales happen off-line. Furthermore, Google charges on a cost per click basis with no direct correlation to increased sales for the merchant or CPG.
New digital advertising platforms that deliver attributed advertising have been gaining share from Google. Amazon leads the pack and now ranks third in size among digital ad businesses in the US after Google and Facebook. Amazon has a huge advantage because many of its users are logged in as Amazon Prime members when they search on Amazon. Most of the purchases are also completed on Amazon’s platform resulting in enhanced targeting and attribution. Card-linked platforms including Rakuten Ebates In-Store, American Express Offers and Bank of America’s Bank Amerideals are other new platforms gaining share from Google. These card-linked marketing platforms are growing because their users are also logged-in/ opted-in. The resulting off-line purchases can be traced back to the online ads, thereby delivering a much higher level of correlation from ad to purchase than Google can provide.
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