A lengthy investigation and longtime expected antitrust lawsuit against Google has been filed by the Justice Department. The lawsuit claims that illegal contracts and procedures have enabled the division of parent company Alphabet to maintain a monopoly over online search advertising. The New York Times points to several contracts that Google has in place that maintain its stronghold on digital search- one of which pays Apple billions of dollars each year to be the default search engine on iPhones. Similar lawsuits have been filed against Google overseas in the EU, which Google has fought back. The same is expected here in the U.S.
While this will likely take years to duke out in court, the lawsuit certainly addresses a problem in digital search advertising in that it is dominated solely by Google. A few weeks ago, we echoed rumors in one of our blog posts that Apple might be looking to enter the search engine space. If it was found that Google's multi-billion dollar payments to Apple to be the default search engine on the iPhone were in violation, Apple would need a way to make up that lost revenue. By creating its own search engine, Apple would not only make up for that loss (Google's 2019 ad revenue eclipsed $134 billion), but would also give Apple an advantage due to the fact that 54% of all smartphones in the US are iPhones. Apple would have an immediate user base from day one that would outnumber Android users (estimated 42%)- a leg up that other search competitors have never had before. Microsoft has attempted to compete with Google's search engine with Bing, but the Seattle-based tech giant has failed to succeed largely because it lacks a presence in smartphone usage with Android and Apple dominating. The iPhone is the key to Apple's search engine success if it were to enter the space.
If the antitrust suit leads to the emergence of other search engines and/or if Apple decided to get into online search, new competition would be extremely welcome by digital marketers. For multifamily specifically, the industry relies heavily on Google and Facebook for lead generation. Add that to an ILS landscape that continues to get swallowed up by Apartments.com and the creative opportunities are limited to say the least. Without Apple or any other large players in online search competing with Google for the time being, the need for analytical and proactive campaign management of your Google Ads campaigns is now more important than ever.