Happy birthday Google!

In September 1998, a tech behemoth was born. This week, Google has turned 25.

Google’s influence on many aspects of our lives since its inception merely a quarter of a century ago has been phenomenal. The company soon saw off most competitors in the fledgling search engine industry, becoming the dominant player globally in providing instant access to the universe of online information. According to statista.com, Google now has market share of around 83%, but other sources put its share at over 90%.  Either way it’s hugely influential as a curator of information and hugely powerful because of the behavioural data it owns.

Nowadays who buys anything without first turning to Google first? The combination of search engine and advertising designed to exploit consumer search habits creates a powerful component of the consumer online shopping journey. Buyers use these resources to do their homework by searching for information and validating their choices by researching competing products, offers and specifications. Even for those still wanting to transact in bricks and mortar outlets Google provides endless points of comparison and practical information about opening hours, stock availability and so on. How did we ever manage to buy groceries, clothing or household goods without it, let alone cars, holidays, insurance and other services?

Google is also really important for the dissemination of news. Few people still consume news from a physical newspaper or from the TV news bulletin. Plenty get their news updates from Google, however, not least when they search for a topic or issue and content from major news organisations and online publications appears in the search results. Online news sites often appear high in search results because Google’s algorithm rewards their domain authority, judging them to be authoritative and well-researched.

That’s why Metricomm uses Google news as the starting point for its evaluation of online media effectiveness. Visibility in online searches is one component of our analysis of how media coverage influences consumer choices. The news items that appear in Google search can be demonstrated beyond all reasonable doubt to have an impact on purchase consideration and buyer behaviour. So often, reading online news prompts a further Google search for related information about a company, brand, product, theme or issue. Our job is to quantify this impact and use all the data sets at our disposal to demonstrate how it translates into tangible communication outcomes.

No wonder ‘google’ has become a verb – a level of market penetration enjoyed by a small handful of world-changing products. Yes, just as the Hoover revolutionised domestic chores, Google has simplified and democratised 24×7 access to information that shapes how we think and how we act.

As Google blows out the candles on its birthday cake, it’s worth reflecting on the value that online search gives us as consumers of both products and news. Not to mention the power it has conferred on the advertising industry to individually target us within our own homes. Or the power – underestimated by many – of online news, moulding our opinions and behaviour through our computer screens, tablets, TVs and mobile phones.

For more information about Metricomm’s online media evaluation email hello@metricomm.com

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