The current state of Search

Search Engines & the current hype about AI while Gen-Z use Social Networks to Search for places, etc.

The current state of Search

While there's a lot of noise about the future of Search with the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI), let's focus on the current state of Search; especially what seems missing from most of the comments and announcements we all had the occasion to read over the Internet in the last few weeks.

TL;DR

  • Search engines market share. Google still dominates the search engine galaxy at 86-92% market share worldwide; and that trend has not changed once. Bing became fancy lately thanks to its integration of ChatGPT but it didn't have an impact of its market share; search results still being less relevant and the UI still being ... Bing.
  • How Search is used. According to an internal research conducted by Google, 40% of Gen-Z use Tik Tok or Instagram for Search rather than Google. The way new users use Search is shifting and the Search model of traditional search engines need to adapt.

Google vs. Bing; Bard vs. ChatGPT

After both Google and Bing announcements around AI integration for Search on February 8th, a lot of articles and comments have been published. Most of them if not all focused on how Bing outclassed Google for the first time in terms of communication and integration of AI as for the future of Search. The most significant signal have been noticed on the stock market:

The thing is; people seem to forget two things:

  • First, among all the search engine' users (ie. who are not working in tech so who are not commenting neither are aware of this), who really cares about AI integration?
  • Second, despite the current hype around Bing and its ChatGPT integration, Google still has a overwhelming 92% market share worldwide.

So, unless all of a sudden people start caring about the quality of the AI integration on search engines, I don't see how the market share would change.

I'm not saying that search engines shouldn't integrate AI; I'm just saying that we talk a lot about something maybe not that big to most users.

Declining use of search engines by Gen-z

Almost 40% of 18-24 in the US use Tik Tok or Instagram over Google. This percentage will eventually increase over the years.

[...] this data indicates they don’t necessarily start their journey on Google anymore. That means all the work Google did over the years to organize, curate and recommend various businesses [...] could be lost on these younger internet users. (Sarah Perez on Techcrunch).

Following that internal research, Google already tried to adapt (see my introduction to the snack search engine; giving answers directly on the SERP) and is still trying to.

Obviously, it makes no doubt that Gen-Z have understood the power of AI through ChatGPT considering the excessive use of the latter for home assigments; resulting in cheatings. Still, does it mean that Gen-Z will see an interest in using a search engine more than a social media to get answers?

It makes no doubt that everyone understand the power of Artificial Intelligence (even if a few really understand how it works (unfortunately)). I'm personally doubtful about its use directly in a search engine: it can make sense for long tail queries (as shown during Google's announcement of Bard) but I don't see how it would be integrated for short tail queries that drive ads so revenue for both Google and advertisers.

Above that, a question that I didn't spot in all the conversations around the integration of AI in Search is the declining use of search engines by Gen-Z. I think we should focus on this as this will define the actual future of Search.