Amazon, Google, TikTok… the battle for advertising on the e-commerce channel is heating up

Google and TikTok announced new features this week that should consolidate their foothold in the online advertising e-commerce channel, now largely dominated by Amazon. Video is central.

While Google dominates the global digital advertising market (28.6% market share expected by eMarketer in 2021, still ahead of Facebook), Amazon’s e-commerce channel advertising is largely occupied by Amazon. For example, still according to eMarketer, the Seattle firm owns about three-quarters of the US market share. Given the staggering size of this market segment in the United States alone — about $17 billion in 2020 — it’s not surprising that Google, which recently strengthened its partnership with Shopify and its 1.7 million e-merchants, is investing even more.

Full throttle with visual search

During its online event Search On, Wednesday, September 29, 2021, the Alphabet subsidiary unveiled new features that should boost its activity in this area. For example, iOS users will soon see a new function in the Google application that allows them to search for objects that are present in all photos on a web page via the image recognition application Google Lens. It is also launching in Chrome on desktop, allowing users to perform visual searches directly on the same tab.

The Alphabet subsidiary will also facilitate the search for clothes, shoes and accessories on mobile phones directly from the search results. E-commerce therefore fits right next to informative results such as nearby points of interest, guides or videos.

An operation that “not only can we connect shoppers with the right products, but we also help millions of sellers and brands to be seen on Google”, the company explains. One of the new features is the availability of seller inventory as soon as search results appear, which Google says can be especially important for small businesses looking for local visibility.

More contextualized search results

The Mountain View company will also launch a new way to perform visual online searches in the coming months using its MUM (for “Multitask unified model”) system. Unveiled in the spring at the Google I/O 2021 event, it aims to offer more contextualized searches beyond simple keywords using artificial intelligence.

The new function should make it possible to use the image recognition application Google Lens to find, for example, the pattern of a shirt on a pair of socks, and this from a photo of the shirt in question. The Alphabet subsidiary explains that this should enable searches that are not necessarily obvious with words.

Google also announced a redesign of its famous search engine, also incorporating features from MUM. Google Search now has a “Things to Know” feature that suggests pages related to the query. The display of search results will also be redesigned, including more visual results. Google will also offer the user topics related to certain moments of a video in the coming weeks.

TikTok is also getting stronger, like Facebook, Instagram…

A day before Google, TikTok, which also joined forces with Shopify this year, also unveiled new features in its ecommerce strategy. In this context, the Bytedance subsidiary has launched TikTok Shopping, a suite of solutions, functionalities and advertising tools intended to “ease the transition between product discovery and purchase“explains the social network already firmly anchored in the video. The brands present on the platform – currently those in the United Kingdom, the United States and Indonesia – will be able to “sync their catalogs and create a presentation tab of their products linking directly to their online store for payment”, describes a press release. Merchants who have partnered with third-party services such as Shopify or PrestaShop can link their product catalog directly to them.

As Facebook and Instagram bolster their own “social shopping” offerings, the battle to dominate the digital advertising e-commerce channel promises to get tough.

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