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Core Search is Declining! And other Misinformation...

Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue

Lot's of folks are hitting the glue again now that "core search" is in decline. comScore and others have released data which MANY have interpreted to show that desktop search is in decline and mobile is taking its place. Vendors in non-search services seize on this fear to encourage folks to shift budgets towards their stuff. Horsefeathers. Before believing myths like this people should ask themselves: "hmmm, am I searching less at work or at home than I used to? Does my spouse search less than they used to? Do I know anyone who has stopped searching at work or at home in favor of searching while they're going somewhere?" If the answer to all of these is "no", then one should look more carefully at the data rather than taking it at face value. Here's the thing: people have conflated devices with context of use. Tablets are classified as mobile devices. True enough, you can walk around with them pretty easily. However, according to Google 80% of tablet usage happens between 6PM and 9PM in the local time, and 95% of it happens over wifi, not cell signals. It isn't unreasonable to assume that most tablet usage is happening at home, on the couch. This isn't really new behavior. In fact, there once were other mobile computing devices called "laptops" which people used in similar manner to tablets. Very similar manner. They too were portable, occasionally connected through cell towers and were often "couch companions". The big difference is this: there has never been a way to distinguish between desktops and laptops. Search engines can't do it, advertising platforms can't do it, comScore, Hitwise, none of us can tell which is which. So, we've just rolled them into one thing and often referred to search patterns on them as "desktop" or "core" search. As tablets replace laptops...that's right folks tablets are replacing laptops, not desktops...it creates the impression that "mobile" is rising and "core search" is falling. In fact, mobile search (smartphones) is increasing, though that rate of growth has slowed, and I suspect tablets get more attention during couch time than laptops did by virtue of their weight and size. However, I've yet to see any compelling evidence that desktop search -- not laptop -- is declining, in fact the numbers suggest the opposite. Are vertical search engines going to be the Google killer? Will everyone just go directly to Amazon or eBay? What about the Online Travel Agencies, will they take search share from Google? Well, um, sure, but what's "new" here? Amazon and eBay have been around longer than Google. I'm pretty sure most folks online are aware of Expedia and Orbitz and... Will Facebook Graph Search be the Google killer? Unlikely. Graph Search is about finding content on Facebook. Could be huge for local businesses, restaurants, etc. Maybe a Yelp killer, but not even a Google competitor in many contexts. RKG's quarterly Digital Marketing Report will be out soon, and we'll see Google posting significant YOY gains...again. An awful lot of folks are wringing their hands about the demise of Google and "what's next?" My bet is what's next is Google posting another big year of profitable growth this year, and next year, and... Smart marketers will continue to explore new opportunities as they arise and letting data drive marketing decisions will also keep them from jumping off the deep end by pulling the plug on what works and leaping into the unknown and unproven.
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