Whilst Google remains a key player in the digital marketing landscape, its dominance has seen a significant challenge from the likes of Facebook, Amazon and a host of other platforms.
So, should you be considering investment budget in other platforms? Ultimately it depends on the goals of your business and the audience you are attempting to reach, but with multiple options available it’s important to put some consideration into what platforms will be most effective in helping your business achieve its goals.
In the traditional search marketing space, Google is still king, with a 93% market share in the UK. The closest competitors, Bing and Yahoo! achieve only 5% and 1.4% respectively. However, this can be dramatically different in other countries such as China where Baidu retains a 70% market share, or Russia, where Yandex accounts for 40% of the market. As such, the region in which your primary audience is based is an important initial consideration when looking at search marketing platforms.
Even in a country such as the UK, where Google dominates, Bing still sees a significant amount of search volume, with 6 billion monthly searches occurring on the Bing network where businesses are able to target the core Bing platform alongside smaller search engines such as Yahoo and DuckDuckGo.
Targeting other search platforms can allow your message to reach audiences who are less inclined to use Google. Research has shown that the typical Bing user falls into the 55 – 64 age range so if your product or service is targeted at an older demographic then Bing could be a valuable tool for reaching these users.
Another key consideration when choosing how to allocate budget is cost. Competition on Bing is significantly lower and this is reflected in cost per click which can be up to 60% lower than Google on average.
Furthermore, although paid options are yet to become available for voice search, it’s important to note that Alexa’s search function is powered by Bing, so if this becomes an option in future then a presence on Bing will become even more important.
Despite recent issues that saw major advertisers leaving the platform, Facebook is still the largest operator within the social media space, with 2.6 billion active users as of Q1 2020. The significant reach afforded across both Facebook and Instagram, coupled with a proliferation of specific audience segments available to target mean that the Facebook platform can be an important part of your digital marketing mix. Whilst less expansive, other well known platforms also boast a significant reach with 660 million users on LinkedIn and 330 million on Twitter.
Businesses could also look to generate engagement in different ways via platforms such as Snapchat; whilst the traditional ad formats aren’t available here, sponsored AR lenses or geofilters can provide a unique and interesting way of building brand awareness and affiliation. Then there is the new kid on the block, TikTok, which has seen a surge in popularity with 800 million worldwide users and counting. Again, this platform lacks the advertising features afforded by the more mature networks but instead offers unique branding opportunities. Brands can create their own channel and upload videos to connect with their audience or work with established influencers to spread content to a broader audience. Paid advertising is also now available on the platform, with in-feed native video ads, sponsored hashtags and lenses and brand takeover options available. However, advertising is still very much in the experimental stage here and if your brand isn’t the right fit for this channel then it may be difficult to achieve results.
With social media it’s also important to note that, generally speaking, users are more likely to be in the awareness or consideration phase of the sales funnel and therefore less primed to complete a specific conversion action. As such, paid social may work better as part of a mixed marketing strategy where it can be used to generate positive engagement with your brand that will then lead an audience to convert further down the funnel.
Amazon’s marketing platform is still relatively new and somewhat basic in comparison to the abundance of options available on platforms such as Google and Facebook. As yet, it lacks detailed audience targeting options and marketers will have to settle for targeting users through either keywords, specific products or product categories. However, with over half of all product searches beginning here, Amazon is fast becoming an essential consideration for marketers working with retail products. At the moment it’s also slightly cheaper than Google Shopping, with CPCs around 33% lower on average. However, perhaps the most significant factor at play here is trust. Amazon’s premium customer service and brand positioning has resulted in 89% of buyers saying they are more likely to buy products from Amazon than other ecommerce sites.
As users become more savvy toward traditional digital marketing, more and more businesses are turning toward native advertising, with the global market for this sector predicted to grow to $402bn by 2025. Success with native advertising requires great content that provides real value to users and is informative rather than disruptive. However, if done properly, programmatic native ads can yield great results with CTRs up to 40 times that of traditional display advertising and 18% more purchase intent than banner ads.
In conclusion, before any decision is made in regards to what platforms you should be investing in, it is essential to develop a well rounded understanding of your business goals and the audience for your product or service. Google should certainly not be discounted but businesses would be well advised to consider other options as part of their marketing activity. It’s also important to note that the landscape is constantly shifting and what works today may not work tomorrow. As such, it’s important to remain flexible and open to testing new ideas in order to maximise return on investment.