Google, The Goliath

One man’s meat is another man’s poison. This holds true in real life, and perhaps even more so in digital space. For many of us, especially if we are one of the 30% of internet users now using ad blockers, those recurrent, never-ending and flashy advertisements are a clear source of irritation. However, for many firms including the tech giants, digital advertising – the cornerstone of their marketing strategies or their primary revenue generator – is the lifeblood of their business. 

A study by Juniper Research projects that total expenditure on digital advertising will hit a whopping $520 billion by 2023 from $294 billion in 2019, which means an impressive average year-on-year growth of about 15%! This trend is driven by the proliferation of channels through which advertisements can reach users and the increasing adoption of Artificial Intelligence technology designed to drive highly targeted ads to specific audiences. If you were wondering who the main drivers behind this surge in digital advertising are, just check your three open tabs – Google, Facebook and Amazon. 

Commonly known as the ‘Digital Duopoly’, Google and Facebook together rake in more than half of the total digital advertising dollars spent in the United States. However, Amazon is slowly but surely chipping away at their market share, with an eMarketer forecast putting Amazon’s share of the United States digital advertising market at nearly 10% in 2020. While it is definitely useful to keep a look out for this rising star, the giant that will continue to leave the largest footprint in the digital landscape is undoubtedly Google. To give a sense of Google’s mammoth scale, its ad revenues is projected to exceed $230 billion by 2023. 

Google’s advertising credentials derive from its extensive suite of advertising tools, and a deep reservoir of user and search data. As you may well know, data is of little value without the tools to analyze and make sense of it. And likewise, tools are of little use without data to contextualize the target market. Google is acutely aware of this and draws upon its strength in both data and tools to meet the demands of the digital advertising market.

For instance, Google AdWords allows businesses who are keen on driving traffic to their websites to pay to appear at the top of search results. The search console helps businesses connect with web crawlers and optimize their websites to rank on search engine results pages (SERP). Google AdSense instead allows those who have strong followings and high quality traffic to monetize their webpages by offering advertising spaces. With this perspective in mind, Google could very well be seen as one of the largest direct advertising agencies known to mankind – it connects advertisers, content creators and customers all across the Internet. 

Google Search

Google Analytics, a staple for any online business or digital marketer, provides the necessary data analytics tools for you to glean insights and make more informed business and marketing decisions. To give a simple, illustrative example, take a look at the following URL. 

Have you ever wondered what the whole stream of characters means? Well, “UTM” stands for Urchin Tracking Module, and is a type of URL tagging that captures useful information like the sources of your traffic. Google Analytics can consolidate this information and report the performance of each of your campaigns, including key statistics such as the number of visitors, geographical location, user buckets and conversion metrics. On E-commerce stores, Google Analytics, if configured properly, can track user behavior through the various pages on the site, revenue figures and various business metrics at a shockingly detailed level. This grants site owners an unparalleled level of insight that has never been available in the past. We can now reach thousands and even millions of visitors, track their every action and still keep track of what is important to our growth goals. 

Beyond this, the toolkit available to digital marketers is expected to expand further as Google continues to churn out machine learning-powered ad offerings to help deliver more precise and privacy-compliant targeting. For instance, Google launched in Apr 2018 its AI-powered ads suggestions to Google AdWords. This auto-generates ads suggestions based on advertisers’ prior campaigns, headlines, descriptions and other relevant information. On top of search engine related technologies, other tools like Dialogflow also allows online businesses to capitalize on the messenger marketing revolution. Dialogflow is a machine learning technology that people can use to build chatbots and automated marketing message flows. These chatbots can even take in open-ended input, sense the intent behind the customer’s language, and send an appropriate reply. This could mean that online brands can harness the power of language processing to handle customer service, marketing and even the sales process on a scalable manner. A small team can now fulfill the functions that older business models would require entire departments for.

Google Search Console

And this only skims the surface. Google is also a giant when it comes to the tech scene. With the Google Cloud Platform, almost every site on the Internet relies on APIs like Google Maps API, or Google’s social login authentication to function. This grants Google with a lot of data and a lot of power. Google is also very dynamic, launching new projects all the time, despite the scale that it operates at. For example, Firebase allows small developers to build apps without having to manage a lot of the back-end that would usually complicate things. For startups or software houses, this means that they can build, test and scale rapidly. But at the same time, as Google also manages the databases and connections that these apps use, it has information on user behavior and app usage that could prove especially useful for marketing purposes. 

What does this mean for Internet users and digital marketers like you and me? For one, businesses are no longer going to broadcast wildly to just anyone on the Internet. Rather, the ads we will see in future will be more targeted and relevant. This likely means a less frustrating web surfing experience for users, and higher returns on ad spend for businesses. And as the statistics show, this is a rapidly growing market that digital marketers will surely benefit from if we position ourselves to ride the wave up. Perhaps one man’s meat need not be another man’s poison after all.    

Read more on Juniper Research’s paper

Future Digital Advertising: Artificial Intelligence & Advertising Fraud 2019-2023”,

and the eMarketer report

“Amazon Advertising 2019 – Growth and Performance Are Strong at the No. 3 US Digital Ad Seller”