Google Antitrust Action and the Future of Search Marketing

Google may be the king of search engines but they’re probably wishing they were a little more low profile about now. They have a serious concern: the Department of Justice is breathing down their necks. The Google antitrust lawsuit made big news recently and that should be surprising. In the end, the Google antitrust action and the future of search marketing are in the process of being decided.

“This is happening because there are concerns about Google concentrating power,” says Dan Gemp, CEO of Dreamscape Marketing. “For some people, it’s not so much what they’ve done so far. It’s what they could do if nothing restrains them.”

The Google antitrust lawsuit centers around the idea that the company actively sought to create a limited rather than more diverse market. By buying and killing start-ups, Google, in effect, hindered technological innovations. Naturally, the Google antitrust action and the future of search marketing hang in the balance.

The process of buying and eliminating competition is a dangerous thing. Primarily, it’s potentially denying consumers different and potentially better options. “It would be like if Thomas Edison had invented the light bulb, then created a powerful monopoly that prevented the future development of fluorescent and LED lights by other companies,” says Gemp. “That obviously didn’t happen. However, some people have fears of Google being able to limit the ability of competitors to offer innovative choices.”

The elephant in the room is the amount of information Google gets from its users. Should they exclusively have so much information on consumers? It’s this glut of information that attracts big tech companies like Apple. When Google is the default browser on iPhones, it’s an attempt to limit the choice of search engine for consumers.

The Google antitrust action and the future of search marketing has a lot to do with Google AdWords. Nearly 80% of searches occur in Google. That means a lot of people see Google ads, which is the real money maker for the search engine. Is it any wonder that Google has a vested interest in remaining the dominant search engine?

Of course, there are concerns that go beyond the elimination of competition. Another question has to be asked: what is Google’s responsibility in the spreading of misinformation. That’s certainly a hot-button issue in the aftermath of the presidential elections. There’s the real danger of Google allowing virtually anyone to spread misinformation under the guise of “news.” Will Google intervene to stop this practice? Many experts are skeptical. It’s another angle to the Google antitrust lawsuit that not everyone is paying attention to.

“With Google dominating the marketing, there’s less competition,” says Gemp. “That means fewer choices and ultimately a less-competitive market with fewer marketing opportunities. That’s not good for anyone, except Google.”

The idea behind the lawsuit is to reduce Google’s dominance in the hope that more search engines can compete effectively. For example, small search engines like DuckDuckGo market themselves as a company that doesn’t track your search info. For those consumers tired of Google’s perpetual gathering of personal info, that could be a very attractive feature.

The consensus of experts watching the case seems to be that the end result has to be a competitive market. A market where consumers have choices, rather than limitations. 

The Google Antitrust Action and the Future of Search Marketing: How Concerned Should You Be?

Despite how big this lawsuit feels, marketers will have to settle for a wait-and-see scenario. Marketers can do little besides watch for how the Google antitrust lawsuit works out. In the meantime, it’s basically business as usual (not that things are usual in a pandemic). Even the stock market, always ready to overreact to potentially game-changing laws, greeted the lawsuit with seeming indifference. In fact, Google stock prices rose when the company announced it would fight the lawsuit.

The Google antitrust action and the future of search marketing probably won’t be detrimental, except perhaps for Google. “Digital marketing is going strong,” says Dan Gemp. “Whatever does or doesn’t happen with the Google antitrust lawsuit, digital marketing will continue to dominate. Whether Google remains the dominant search engine probably won’t matter in the long run. Remember the idea of the Edison light bulb? There are no Edison-branded light bulbs today. It appears we’re doing just fine without them.”

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