Marketing leader | Expert in SaaS growth, marketing strategy, brand development, and team building
In 1998, when most Internet entrepreneurs were caught in the gold-rush of viral content creation, Google was devising the broader taxonomy of all-things Internet, following the maxim, “During a gold rush, sell shovels”.
And what the Google team crafted was sheer genius. They created a search engine with indexing and classification systems that brought enduring order AND simplified navigation to the chaos of the internet.
Google’s then new “search engine” delivered SERPs (search engine results pages) to users, pairing brief topical answers with hyperlinks to websites known to subject matter experts.
The business model, algorithm, and product market fit were so good that Google’s search engine (then powering Yahoo, too) reached 200m daily searches in the year 2000, and has remained de facto “front-door” to the internet for many in the western world to this day. In 2023, Google Search revenue alone is ~$300,000,000,000. <Egad!>
Staggering stuff, but perhaps the writing on the wall…
1 QUESTION. 2 VERY DIFFERENT ANSWERS
“How could a small, family-owned Italian restaurant effectively use social media and emerging tech trends to attract more local customers, and what unique challenges might they face in this process?”
GOOGLE SEARCH ANSWER:
GOOGLE SEARCH ANSWER:
HOW DO THEY COMPARE?
Google’s answers are served self-service style lists with brief answers and recommend links. It’s up to the user to then parse through the resulting information and sites, complete any additional research – in this case ALOT. And then draw your own conclusion.
Google’s more “self-service” search is a great exercise, as it ensures you are fully engaged in the process. But yea, it still is exercise.
On the other hand, AI answers provided a holistic, well-developed, logical, and answer – although the content would benefit from more depth, the direction was very helpful, especially with some brief Custom Instructions given to ChatGTP4:
“Suggest solutions that are proactive and anticipate my needs”
“Break down complex problems or tasks into smaller, manageable steps then explain each w/ reasoning”
“Value good arguments over authorities”
“After a response, provide 3 follow-up questions worded as if I’m asking you. Format in bold as Q1, Q2, and Q3. Place two line breaks (“\n”) before and after each question for spacing. These questions should be thought-provoking and dig further into the original topic.”
GOOGLE’S COMPETITIVE MOAT
Over the years, Google has enjoyed some significant barriers to entry into search:
DATA –>> Creating a world-class, infinitely-complex, and changing taxonomy system that has kept others guessing and always a good distance to second place in search.
DISTRIBUTION –>> A loyal customer base through SaaS product installs including Gmail, YouTube, Photos, Docs, etc.
HIRING –>> Relative ease in hiring and retaining the best and brightest
WAR CHEST –>> A multi-billion dollar sales and development war chest
But now the LLMs are countering with:
DATA –>> Advances in computational power that allow autonomous and continuous crawling of the the web – giving them data on par (or nearly) with Google.
DISTRIBUTION –>> Material revenue-driving and cost-cutting applications that are driving product:market fit to new highs in PR-buzz. As utility proves out for the masses, Product Led Growth (PLG) will carry momentum.
HIRING –>> The lure of AI search is sure to capture the attention of the best and brightest looking to make an impact on the world versus working for the “establishment”. Check!
WAR CHEST –>> The halo, shine, and tangible revenue multiples for AI companies will ensure adequate funding for development, marketing and sales.
AI VERSUS SEARCH
Contextual Understanding: AI can understand the specific context of a each individual and adjust its advice accordingly, considering factors like local culture, customer preferences, and even the unique charm of a family-owned business.
Integration of Diverse Knowledge Areas: AI can seamlessly integrate knowledge from various fields such as social media marketing, technology trends in any industry, and local business strategies.
Strategic Thinking: AI can provide strategic insights on how to effectively use social media platforms, potentially suggesting creative campaigns or content ideas specifically suitable for any business.
Predictive Insights: AI can offer predictions on emerging tech trends that could benefit the restaurant in the future, like augmented reality menus or AI-driven customer service enhancements, and how to prepare for these trends.
Customization and Creativity: AI can generate creative and customized ideas, something that a standard search engine cannot offer. For example, suggesting unique social media engagement strategies that align with the Business’s identity.
SIMPLE, EASY, & FRICTION FREE
A common theme from my 20 years in e-commerce and SaaS leadership (Egad!) is that making things simple or “removing friction” accelerates adoption and revenue growth. A few examples…
“Email platform sign-ins” made getting started a breeze on SaaS apps
E-commerce “infinite shelves” removed dreaded “next page” for shoppers
Cloud-based everything. Bring your entire music collection everywhere
Facebook’s “auto-play” videos hockey-sticked Meta’s user engagement
Google Search, while thorough and thought provoking, it is also laden with DIY (do-it-yourself) friction. The experience reminds me of asking my favorite uncle a complex question. Rarely will he share a direct answer, instead choosing to ensure I think for myself. While this process has been invaluable to my development, more often than not, a quick, solid answer would be more appreciated.
IS GOOGLE SEARCH RIPE FOR DISRUPTION?
Overall, while Google Search provides a list of on-topic resources to conclude your own research, which has been an amazingly effective gift to the world over the last 2-decades, the AI LLM offers simply offers a more-holistic, logical, and well-explained answer to many if not most all requests.
The fact that AI also requires less work to answer your question and often times with greater contextual sensitivity – leaves little doubt in my mind that Google Search – in it’s current guise – has at least a legitimate threat in AI LLM for “search” dominance.
It seems unlikely that Google will sit still and watch this happen. Perhaps that Google’s own BARD AI will be integrated with Google’s traditional Search giving users the best of both worlds – the rich indexed utilitarian data from Search, paired with the more user-friendly experience of the AI LLM model??
In the end, I expect the is new technology is simply pushing search into the future to provide a better, more valuable service to we end-users. Can’t wait!
Thanks for listening. Love to hear your opinion and thoughts.
I can be reached at DarnDigital if you’d like to discuss.