Amazon Goes for Google’s Jugular With New Service

“People don’t think of Amazon as search, but if you are looking for something to buy, you are more often than not looking for it on Amazon,” said Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google.

Eric Schmidt, Larry Page, and other top brass at Google are no fools. They know that Amazon is a major threat to their core search business, and they won’t be happy to learn that Amazon is branching out beyond just selling products into selling services through the newly announced “Amazon Travel.”

If successful, you can bet Amazon will expand into other service-based categories which not only detracts from Google’s bottom line, but could dramatically change the search landscape for marketers.

Amazon Travel

Just two weeks ago, Skift reported that Amazon is getting ready to launch its own travel service, Amazon Travel.

The idea behind Amazon Travel is to improve the shopping experience next time you’re looking to take a trip. While details on how the service will work are sparse, here are a few things we can expect:

  1. Low prices: Amazon will certainly pressure hoteliers to give Amazon shoppers a great price in exchange for the many heads Amazon will send their way.
  2. Reviews: Amazon has the most valuable online review system on the planet. They’ll certainly carry that review system over to their travel service.
  3. Ease of purchase: Planning a trip usually requires a consumer to visit multiple sites, create new accounts, enter credit card information, etc. Amazon Travel brings all those vendors under one roof for an easy-to-pull together package which can be bought with one click.

We might find out about other differentiators once the service is released, but I think it’s fair to say that the plan right now is to simply take what’s worked in the e-commerce space and apply it to travel.

What This Means for Google

Travel is a lucrative market for Google. Searches related to [NY hotels] bring in anywhere from $8 to $10 a click in revenue for Google, and there are millions of searches a month for that city alone.

If Amazon starts to lure travelers away from Google, it’ll come at a significant loss to Google’s ad revenue — especially when you add in flights, rental cars, resorts, spas, and other excursions into the mix.

This is a shot at the heart of Google’s core business and Amazon is a formidable opponent, but the real risk for Google isn’t even the lost revenue from travel advertising. It’s the idea that Amazon Travel is a prototype for any service-based company to advertise on Amazon.

What This Means for the Industry

Imagine if Amazon Travel was a success and it expanded beyond travel to any type of service. You could go to Amazon to find a plumber, order a pizza, and schedule a doctor’s appointment.

Goodbye Angie’s list. Goodbye Yelp. Goodbye Yellow Pages (wait, does Yellow Pages still exist?). Finding a local vendor could be as easy as shopping for new product on Amazon, which means vertical search engines are going to get squeezed as they go head-to-head with the e-commerce giant.

The biggest concern of all for these sites is that consumers will change their shopping behavior. Instead of starting their search on Google and ending up on an aggregator or branded site, consumers may just head straight to Amazon and place their order there.

What This Means for the Marketer

If you work as a marketer in the travel industry, it’s both a good and bad day for you.

Good: You’re responsible for booking rooms and trips online, and Amazon just created a new way for you to sell unused inventory. They will also pull some budgets away from AdWords, which should help reduce bidding competition, which in turn means lower cost-per-clicks.

Bad: You now have to learn how to use Amazon Travel. That means more training, point of views, additional reporting, and meetings about meetings about whether to try something new or stick to the tried and true. If nothing else, expect to start seeing Amazon show up in your rankings reports.

If you’re a marketer outside of the travel industry, it’s a good idea to pay attention to what happens with the new Amazon Travel offering. If it’s a big hit, they’ll likely expand into new verticals quickly.

Last, if consumers do begin their search for services over at Amazon, SEOs will have to follow suit. Getting your company’s service ranked on Amazon will be just as important as getting it ranked in Google.

It just serves to remind us that Google is not search, just a rather large player that must constantly fight to stay on top. With big players with Amazon further encroaching on Google’s search space, the question is how long will Google remain king of the hill?

Related reading

Virtual reality headset
An image from The Simpsons showing a yellow-fingered hand holding up a newspaper whose headline reads: Bumblebee Man Caught In Sting
product-reviewing
flat design mobile payments
Simple Share Buttons