Amazon, Google Overlap in E-Commerce, Digital Ads, More

Amazon and Google have become more competitive over the years, and at the latter’s annual Google Marketing Live conference this week, the company introduced new products to target online shoppers. At the same time, many shoppers now begin their search on Amazon, which has also been making inroads into Google’s traditional bailiwick of digital advertising. Marketing analytics firm Jumpstart reported that, in 2015, about 54 percent of product searches began on Google, and 46 percent on Amazon; those numbers flipped by 2018.

The New York Times reports that, although Google isn’t known as a shopping destination, it’s trying with Google Express, which “looks similar to Amazon’s familiar online marketplace.” On Google Express, payments are processed via Google Pay and shoppers must spend a certain amount to get free delivery, only in the U.S.

Google won’t reveal how much Google Express earns, “but analysts assume it is a sliver of Google’s $116 billion in annual ad sales.” In comparison, Amazon “sold $277 billion in goods online last year, which analysts estimate is between a third and a half of all e-commerce sales.”

Amazon’s ad sales earned $10.8 billion in the last year, which is minuscule compared to Google and Facebook’s ad businesses. “Both of these companies are arriving at the same conclusion from different points,” said Marketplace Pulse founder Juozas Kaziukėnas.

Other overlapping spheres of influence include cloud computing with Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services, Amazon’s Twitch as an alternative to Google’s YouTube, and Google Home and Amazon Echo in the smart speaker market.

Google has also added a shopping feature that will allow users to purchase directly from searches, images and YouTube videos; “by clicking ads in those settings, a shopper would buy products through Google.” Google will fill in the credit card and shipping information for those users who have that information stored with the company. The idea, said Google, is to be a middleman “that guarantees a consistent return policy and customer service.”

Bloomberg reports that Google unveiled “new promotional formats to online search, YouTube and its increasingly popular Discover service.” That’s good news to investors concerned about last quarter’s slowdown. To counter the threat from Amazon and Facebook’s Instagram, Google is offering other ways for shoppers and retailers to spend money, including soon offering targeted ads for “retail products on Gmail, Google Images, the YouTube mobile app and its voice-based digital assistant, among other services.”

The company will also start serving ads on Discover, its personalized news feed that, Google stated, attracts 800 million people each month. Google is revamping its shopping service with a website with personalized results and a digital shopping cart. Google’s vice president of engineering for Travel and Shopping, Oliver Heckmann, stated the company will introduce a standalone shopping app at some time in the future. He also noted that the company is still working on a business model for the feature that allows users to buy products on YouTube during a clip.