What would happen if Google leaves Australia? (For Marketers)

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If there’s one word synonymous with the internet, it’s Google. What started as a search engine has evolved into one of the most influential software companies in the world. With an ownership of 90-95% of the world’s search engine market, Google is what all of us flock towards when we seek information. What’s more? Nearly every household uses at least one of Google’s services such as Gmail, Docs, Slides, Drive and owned video platform YouTube. So what would happen in a world without Google? We could either ask our grandparents, or expect to see it happen within the next few months. What would happen if Google leaves Australia?

Background

In April of 2020, the Australian government had a talk with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). The discussion was regarding the development of a mandatory code of conduct for news agencies. The goal was to reduce power imbalances between Australian news media businesses and digital platforms, namely Google and Facebook. After a series of drafts, consultations and reviews over the next few months, the bill was introduced to parliament in December 2020. The proposed media bargaining code is still being reviewed, and there is speculation about invoking it into law.

What exactly is the proposed media rule?

The legislation is aimed towards digital platforms like Google and Facebook. These tech giants would be required to pay Australian media companies in order to showcase their content. For years, Australian news companies have lobbied to be paid when online companies aggregate their stories on their websites. The proposed media code would require Google to negotiate with these companies with regard to payments about linking content. In response to the new proposed media code, Google Australia’s managing director Mel Silva had the following words to say:

Clearly Google is not happy about this, and rightly so. As a result, the US based tech giant has threatened to stop making its search engine feature available in Australia. This wouldn’t be the first time this has happened. In 2010, Google shut down operations in China due to risks of a cyberattack. In 2014, it removed Google news from Spain when the government passed a similar law, forcing the company to pay news publishers for stories. Of course, for silicon valley giant Google, Australia only represents a tiny amount of their overall profit and revenue. 

So what could this mean for the average consumer? What about Marketers? A world without Google’s search engine is not a fun one. Here’s what we could expect if Google leaves Australia.

Impact on Online Advertising:

According to data by the Centre of Responsible Technology, Google accounts for over 51% of all online advertising in Australia. Moreover, the digital advertising market for Google Search in Australia is worth nearly $4.3 billion per year. For small businesses, advertising on Google provides an effective, yet affordable way of online marketing. The absence of Google search would not prevent businesses from using Google’s Ad services. However, it would inhibit the potential for good quality, comprehensive data collection that Google Ads provides.

Without Google Search, the ads put up on Google would no longer appear ahead of any other search results. As a consequence, less Australian consumers would be viewing the ads. Furthermore, Google’s competitive advantage is its ability to access consumer data when they use the search engine. With the search engine gone, Google would miss out on this data, affecting the success of the ads.

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Impact on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Another area that would be terribly hit if Google leaves Australia is online Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). SEO is what enables websites to rank higher on Google. If ranked well on the first or second page of Google, prospects can easily access them and visit the websites. The result? Businesses acquire leads and gain awareness. But without the search engine itself, the SEO would be meaningless! Not only would the overall viewership for these sites decrease, but it would limit the potential for making online sales because less people would be visiting the site.

This brings us back to the earlier point of whether the new proposed media law is truly beneficial to Australian news companies. SEO and Google are what lead people towards news articles and websites, driving up traffic, sales, customer acquisition and lead generation. Since websites are the first point of contact, customers want Google as a touchpoint to use in order to access news articles they’re looking for. For these companies, the number of people visitng their site would reduce, since this crucial feature would no longer be made available. Marketing companies spend anywhere between $1,000 to $5,000 per month on SEO, and for good reason! All in all, it doesn’t add up to be a win-win situation!

At the moment, the majority of companies prioritise their SEO based on Google’s search engine. If Google leaves Australia, Marketers would need to optimise their SEO campaigns and strategy for other search engines like Bing and DuckDuckGo. These search engines also have a different link indexing algorithm, and different rules, permissions and policies. SEO ranking on these platforms would require companies to take these factors into account.

Impact on Consumers:

According to data by Google’s regulator, 94% of online searches in Australia go through Google. Naturally, if Google’s search engine is removed from Australia, the average consumer would need to use alternatives. Microsoft’s Bing, Yahoo Search and DuckDuckGo are viable search engine options for consumers. If Google leaves Australia, it would open up new opportunities for these other search engines to grow. Of course, switching over from Google to the other search engines may not feel like the most incentivising for customers. However, if 2020 and Covid-19 have taught us one thing, it’s that we’re adaptable. If Google leaves Australia, eventually all Australian companies will move advertising to the other search engines. This would provide customers with all the recommended and targeted ads that they could use.

Final thoughts

If Google leaves Australia, the Silicon Valley giant will be setting a strong precedent for the rest of the world, as well as for the people of the country. While the proposed media law is aimed towards supporting Australian news companies, it doesn’t do a whole lot of good for other Australian Marketing companies who rely on Google for traffic, lead generation and sales. The impact on the online Marketing industry could be potentially catastrophic, since this is the new norm we’re all so accustomed to. A negotiated agreement between Google and the Australian government might help ease some of this tension, leading to a win win for everyone. Until then, we can continue to appreciate Google in all its glory.

Why did Google threaten to leave Australia?

The Australian government’s new proposed media law was introduced after months of requests and lobbying by Australian news companies. The imbalance of power between these companies are internet giants like Google and Facebook, incentivised the government to propose this rule. According to the law, Google would have to pay Australian news companies and journalist agencies in order to broadcast, showcase or recommend their articles to the general public. In response, Google Australia’s Managing Director Mel Silva spoke in her video about this issue, and how Google would be left with no choice but to withdraw its search engine from Australia.

While the other Google services such as Gmail, YouTube, Docs and Drive would still be available, the keystone of the company, its search engine would be pulled out.

What happens to online Marketing if Google leaves Australia?

Because of how many Marketing companies depend on Google for advertising, the loss of Google’s search engine would be disastrous. Firstly, most of the data retrieved from Google online searches would be inaccessible, further affecting overall data analytics for website traffic and activity. Earlier, we published an article on how to begin a Google search ads campaign, which also depended on Google’s search engine. Any ads on Google: search, display or banner ads would be removed once the main driver is gone.

Moreover, company’s search engine optimisation (SEO) would be severely affected if Google leaves Australia. SEO helps websites and articles rank higher on Google searches, enabling customers to access these links. Without the search engine, reaching people would be more difficult for these companies, and so overall viewership would decrease.

What alternatives do we have if Google leaves Australia?

The most popular choice which many will flock towards if Google leaves Australia, is Microsoft’s Bing. Bing owns 3-5% of the search engine market, and so not a lot of people advertise on it. However, if Google leaves Australia, consumers would be using Bing because of how easy to use it is, and since parent company Microsoft is a trusted, well known brand name. Other options include Yahoo Search and DuckDuckGo, all of which fulfill the role of a search engine.

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Akash Gupta

Akash Gupta

Akash has substantial work experience in the Marketing & Sales industry. He possesses skills in Digital Marketing, Advertising, SEO & SEM and Campaign Strategy.

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