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Can Anyone Beat Google At The Search Engine Game?


For the past decade, Google has been the most prominent search engine worldwide. However, some argue that in the name of providing a better user experience, Google's business practices are raising privacy concerns among its users.


In 2018, Google was penalized €4.3 billion (roughly $5 billion), the largest antitrust fine ever imposed by the European Commission (EC) - over and above the €2.4 billion fine for promoting its own content in search results. These charges not only pose a threat to Google's image but also push people to look for an alternative.


Now in 2020, we are seeing new players emerging in the search engine segment. Founded by former Google employee, Neeva was announced in June, and former Salesforce chief scientist announced You.com in December. But beating Google at its own game means developing a product that could show relevant, useful, fast search results and then building a brand that people around the world can trust and prefer over Google itself.


Doing something like this is next to impossible, not even Microsoft's Bing could capture more than 10% search market share in the US. Simply because Google's search result algorithm is developed over learnings from hundreds of billions of searches in the past decade, user behavior patterns, website bounce back rates etc. So, competing with Google head-to-head won't be a viable option. Instead, new search engines need to address the issues existing Google users have - i.e. privacy concerns.


A rise in privacy concerns amongst internet users is leading to an increased demand for more private search engines that don't share sensitive user data & activity with third parties for marketing purposes. That's the segment of users new search engines are targeting. Neeva, a newly announced search engine can reportedly charge $10/month for an ad-free and private search experience. So, instead of developing a search advertising business model for the source of business funding, these new search engines are charging users upfront for a better search experience.


If this idea gets popular, it won't be surprising to see a shift in the search engine market because - In developed countries, people are usually willing to pay more for a better experience. This has already been proven by the brand-ecosystem model adopted by tech giants like Apple and Samsung.


But Google won't let slip away the popularity of its platform that easy. What if Google also introduces a monthly subscription for an ad-free and a private search service at even a lower cost, just like how Google monetized YouTube?


Whatever the situation is, an ad-free search engine service reaching the masses could impact the digital marketing industry drastically. Because that would mean lower market size for advertisement and increased competition.


It would definitely be interesting to see the future of the search engine landscape and how it would affect online search experience and marketers all across the globe.

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