The Era Of Consumer-Driven Digital Discovery: What Is Replacing … – Forbes

The Era Of Consumer-Driven Digital Discovery: What Is Replacing … – Forbes

As the appetite for travel and dining mushrooms, in-app discovery has become a go-to tool that … [+] threatens open-web searches. (Photo by S3studio/Getty Images)

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In 2022, as the digital marketing world has trembled over Twitter’s recent ad implosion, Microsoft acquiring renewed prominence in ad tech and Apple continuing its stealth advance into advertising, as everyone across the value chain of media wondered about cookie deprecation, Facebook’s decline and the final death blows to “TV” as we knew it, there have also been plenty of other important and consequential digital ad stories that have slipped under the radar because there is just so much going on.

Two of the most overlooked stories, especially in the recent all-Twitter/all-the-time news, that might have the most important implications long-term are the dramatic increase in the speed of the fragmentation of search and, in partial correlation to that, the spurt in growth of travel apps, sites and intermediaries as the world again dares to crowd into aircraft to visit far-off destinations.

Native search is up for grabs as more young people experience the internet through social or entertainment apps—and naturally stay there to do their searches.

In fact, I consider this the era of “digital discovery,” with independent search engines a kind of relic of the past except for a declining number of consumers who want to use the open web.

“Almost 40 percent of young people, when they’re looking for a place for lunch, they don’t go to Google Maps or Search. They go to TikTok or Instagram,” said Prabhakar Raghavan, a Google senior vice president, at Fortune Brainstorm Tech 2022, in July. Or as The New York Times points out, “While Google remains the world’s dominant search engine, people are turning to Amazon to search for products, Instagram to stay updated on trends and Snapchat’s Snap Maps to find local businesses.” A recent UK survey even showed TikTok is the fastest growing source of news (!!) for adults.

In other words, search has fragmented, and not just to direct competitors anymore as the pace of change picks up. Google years ago lost the lead in product searches to Amazon, where the majority of searches really do begin: 61% of online shoppers in the U.S. start their product search on Amazon. Interestingly retailers are also closing in: 32% start their search on Walmart, and social and entertainment platforms are also taking their piece of the search pie, with 15% on Instagram and 11% on TikTok. (We’ve said this before but we’ll say it again, the internet is perhaps the economy’s most competitive sector, and doesn’t need any intervention to be dynamic.)

In a related way, as travel apps and sites have blossomed, so has the consumer habit of using them as search platforms too.

For years, as long ago as the “pre days” of 2018, studies have shown that travelers prefer in-app or in-aggregator to open-web searches for their travel planning—or just for their dreaming perhaps.

That long ago, an eternity in digital years, Travelport Digital surveyed 955 travelers and already “58% of people prefer[red] apps …….


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