A recent blog post, Peak Google, caused a fair amount of debate when it suggested that Google’s dominance of the online advertising market could be eclipsed by another phenomenon – native advertising. Notice that I didn’t say displaced or pushed aside or loss of market share, which is how we usually think competitors could hurt our businesses.
Eclipsing happens, often in technologies, when behavioral patterns change so that a certain product or service becomes simply less desirable than another, often because the other represents a behavioral improvement or better way of accomplishing something. Often, companies are so concerned with their direct competition that they do not see an eclipse coming.
Think horse and buggy vs. cars, radio vs. television, typewriters vs. PCs and PCs vs. smartphones/tablets.
So how could Google’s dominant search advertising model be eclipsed by native advertising?
Native advertising is often defined as all forms of online advertising that appear within a content stream that the using is viewing. Examples would be ads within your newsfeed for Facebook, promoted tweets for Twitter or promoted pins on Pinterest.
Brand advertising is the most prevalent form of advertising. Native advertising, by definition, positions brands in a context that is relevant and meaningful to the user – arguably a more effective experience in promoting the brand.
Why could this eclipse Google? Brands have a greater consumer connection in the soft and fuzzy world of social media rather than Google’s task oriented search environment. Consumer behavior in social environments is more brand friendly, so brands may migrate to native advertising social environments from search environments. Thus, eclipsing Google, but certainly not displacing it.
How could the threat of ‘eclipsing’ effect your business?
With the prevalence of mobile technology, GPS, photo, video, 3D printing and other technological improvements transforming even the most mundane businesses in paradigm shifting ways, business owners continue their myopic view of their industries at their peril.
It’s time for business owners to treat technology with the same lens as they treat their competition. Don’t be blindsided. Stay current on technology. Often certain types of applications of technology or technology influenced customer behavioral patterns are considered fringe cases or “outliers.” Over time, however, these outlying technology applications or behaviors gain acceptance and desirability. That’s when a company can be in danger of becoming eclipsed.
Think ahead. Far ahead. Speculate on how technology could eclipse the need for your core value proposition, or eclipse how you deliver your core value proposition. Or better yet, speculate on how technology can improve it. And then make reasoned, proactive decisions to innovate, adjust or transform, as necessary.