TikTok and Instagram are a real threat to Google Search
Google is losing young users across several of its platforms.
The rise in popularity of social platforms like TikTok and Instagram has started to have a major impact on Google’s services. Many young people now use TikTok or Instagram as their discovery platforms instead of Google Search and Maps.
In a recent conversation at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference (h/t TechCrunch), Google Senior Vice President Prabhakar Raghavan spoke about TikTok and Instagram taking over Google’s services for Gen Z.
According to Raghavan, nearly 40 percent of young people abandon Google services for TikTok and Instagram. “When they’re looking for a place for lunch, they don’t go to Google Maps or Search. They go to TikTok or Instagram.”
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The shift brings a new concern for Google in the face of social media platforms. It was always clear that TikTok and Instagram’s focus on video would be a threat to YouTube, which Google also owns. But now, it’s clear that it’s affecting Google’s other services as well.
So, what does Google do about this problem?
For us older generations of internet users, the idea of keywords has become ingrained in our brains. Over time, we have learned how to navigate and discover things on the internet by using keywords to tie our inquiries to certain topics.
But the younger generations don’t experience the internet the same way. Websites and platforms have developed algorithms and ad networks that are able to infer what users are looking for with little to no input.
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So, Gen Z is able to discover just as much from a TikTok For You Page as they could by searching keywords on Google.
Google’s obviously aware of this shift and the company is making strides to adapt to the new internet culture. For example, it’s adding new AR capabilities to Maps, better mimicking what young users expect to see.
Raghavan brought up an interesting point: Google Maps has been designed to mimic the paper maps that we all used to have in the doors of our cars. Most of Gen Z has never seen a map like that. So traditional map design doesn’t mean anything to them.
Raghavan also said he imagines Search will soon change to better fit the demand of young users for more visual content. We’ll likely start seeing even more image or video content in Google Search results to bring the platform closer to the likes of TikTok and Instagram.
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