If we reinvent search now, it could break Google’s monopoly in the future

If we reinvent search now, it could break Google’s monopoly in the future

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The internet turns 53 this year and has been deeply shaped by big tech companies, including my former employer, Google.

As the Internet comes of age, Google currently controls an incredible amount of access to global information on the Internet. Users around the world seem to get “free content” all the time; However, there are hidden fees for this content provided by a company with over 90% market share.

Google’s success in search advertising and its constant focus on serving ads across the web has created a toxic web environment where everything we do is monitored. Everything we do during research and even afterwards is packaged and used for advertising purposes and it is extremely difficult to differentiate the genuine and reliable from the flashy and fraudulent.

But research doesn’t have to be like that. Consumers and businesses can benefit from a tailored web experience that provides truly helpful answers to questions, not the bargains advertisers want to sell today.

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Here’s how we’re reinventing web search.

Reduce advertising noise by subscribing to alternative search models

Subscription services have undoubtedly benefited from the pandemic. People have signed up together for Netflix, Disney+ and more Meanwhile, premium publishers are putting most of their content behind a paywall. People have become accustomed to subscription services as it is not just for entertainment but also extends to fitness classes, home cooking kits, software, skin care – the list is long. The takeaway from the growth of the subscription economy: People want products that provide the best experience their And Google doesn’t create personas based on their shopping preferences.

Web searches should be no different. After all, this is how we access knowledge and how it shapes our opinions.

A search subscription model will make ads obsolete. If an advertiser isn’t satisfied, the focus turns to users, meaning businesses can focus on more accurate and intuitive search experiences. Users pay a small monthly fee in exchange for unbiased search results and a product where privacy becomes the real foundation; This is good news for everyone.

However, moving to a large-scale subscription model and banning search network ads is certainly not without its challenges. So even today, Google has a monopoly on web search. But it’s not a dystopian future beyond our reach.

Search engines should be about choice and discovery

One of the biggest hurdles to realizing a subscription-based search model is making it easier for users to switch to the alternative.

Users deserve real choice and competitors deserve fair and equitable market access, not the bare minimum that Google says meets regulatory oversight. Android’s “Preferences” screen, for example, is updated once a year and actively buries options with ad-supported Google clones. And even as users search and find alternatives, monopolies like Google abuse their market share to introduce anti-competitive practices such as misleading instructions and shady schemes to drive users back into the walled garden.

And just as the alternatives fail to compete on equal footing for awareness and choice among potential users, they also struggle against the circular saw of Google’s dominance over webmasters in creating a search engine. independent research. The web is a hostile environment for most new search engine crawlers, with most websites only allowing Google crawlers and discriminating against other search engine crawlers.

Without a change in policy and behavior, search competitors will continue to fight with one hand tied behind their backs and Google will continue to dominate the market. This is bad news not only for Big Tech or companies competing with users, but also for democracy.

Take control and make it harder for users and SMBs to find

While policy changes are needed to create a level playing field, the way to fundamentally improve web search for users is to put users back in control rather than serving cookie-based content.

This form of web search essentially puts the end user in the background. While this can be useful for superficial one-click searches, it can lead to poor quality results for targeted or deeper searches.

The search engines of the future must be more focused on the user experience and adapted to the needs of users and businesses. Allowing users to choose the source from which to obtain information, such as academic archives or a news source, provides more relevant and high-quality information.

This is an advantage for publishers because it means high-quality content is prioritized on its own merits rather than being ranked based on who pays the most. And it gives consumers more control over their searches and more confidence in their web search engines.

A new model that puts users in control and eliminates the misaligned incentives of an advertising model, also ends the burden of paying Google to keep their names at the top of search results and therefore at the top of users’ minds. Instead of bidding on their own brand to prevent competitors from bidding more to claim this demand, companies can focus more on their products and differentiate themselves in the market. And users receive more relevant results instead of inferior companies messing with advertising and auction systems.

Looking for a new look for the company

When you’re not selling data and users are in control of their web experience, you’re building trust with the end user. This trust and respect for the user experience provides an opportunity to challenge the traditional parameters of what knowledge seeking means. For example, extending the ability to search seamlessly across all of your digital content, from email to Dropbox, Slack, and Jira, creates a more valuable search experience.

For businesses, this can save countless hours of searching through documents and applications to find the information they are looking for. It promotes employee productivity and efficiency and provides many other benefits. But it starts with trust and giving control back to users; Other than that, it’s Groundhog Day on the web.

Moving away from “googling everything” and reinventing web search for good will require significant change from all stakeholders on the Internet. It means changing behavior for everyone, not just engineers creating technology to change the status quo.

Users must assert control over their data and user experience; Regulators need to level the playing field and welcome competition to match Google’s monopoly, and treat search as a service rather than a means tied to users and businesses to obtain free content and knowledge.

Any model that wants to beat Google must put the user at the center and create a great search experience. Being private or ad-free doesn’t go far enough.

If that happens, we may really be looking for Goliath vs. David 2.0 and finally a way to break Google’s monopoly.

Sridhar Ramaswarmi is the CEO and co-founder of Neeva.

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