2016 was the year when Google went on a hardware spree launching products like the Pixel smartphone lineup, an AI-powered home gadget, routers, and more. So, what happens when the biggest search engine wants to make a name in various non-software sectors? There are obvious foul plays. According to a recent analysis conducted by a search ad data firm SEMrush, Google is possibly misusing resources to market its own products in search results.
The survey evaluated results from 1,000 searches in various categories including laptops, speakers, cell phones, and even, carbon monoxide detectors (Alphabet’s child company, Nest manufacturers such products). SEMrush mentions that these queries were executed on December 1st and past web-surfing history wasn’t taken into consideration to avoid any kind of influence. The majority of outcomes had Google products in the top and prominent ad spots which are quite bewildering.
Furthermore, another dissection of 25,000 searches enacted by the Wall Street Journal found favoritism towards Google services and products 91% of the time and among these, 43% cases involved the top two ad positions held by them. Additionally, the report mentions Google searches for “phones” always encompassed three consecutive Pixel ads, “laptops” started with some Chromebook listings, “watches” led to Android wear smartwatches, you get the idea. Commenting on the results, a Google representative stated that the company has “consciously and carefully designed” these algorithms so that they don’t adversely impact other publishers.
Google usually competes with other advertisers in auctions for these ad spaces and its participation doesn’t directly impact what others have to pay. However, as one might expect, Google does face a substantial revenue loss in this strategy as it is, at the end of the day, their own platform. Last year, Google was also the most dominant advertiser with a share of 31%. Although, an official word from the Mountain View giant is still missing and we doubt that they’ll ever shed some light on this. When the Journal shared the analysis with Google, most of the ads were disappeared making the discussion moot for now.