Google ad revenue growth is slowing as Amazon continues eating into its share

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Google’s ad revenue — which makes up about 85% of its overall revenue — grew at its slowest rate in four years, rising 15.3% year-over-year (YoY) to reach $30.7 billion, per its Q1 2019 earnings.

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For comparison, Google’s ad revenue grew 24.4% YoY last quarter. Alphabet execs attributed the slowdown to currency fluctuations and the timing of product changes, but they didn’t specify what those changes were.

Amazon could be to blame for Google’s slowdown in ad growth, as the e-tailer is increasingly eating into the search giant’s ad share. Amazon, although it also experienced a Q1 slowdown in ad revenue growth, is starting to take some share of the search ad market from the search giant.

Google’s share of the $44.2 billion US search ad market could slip to71%, down from 78%, in 2019, due to the growth of Amazon search ads, per eMarketer estimates. And more ad agencies reportshifting cash from Google search to Amazon.

For example, WPP reportedly spent about $300 million on Amazon search ads in 2018 — 75% of which was moved from Google search budgets. That’s up from spend of between $100 and $150 million on Amazon search in 2017.

Likewise, Omnicom Group has said that 20% to 30% of its clients’ search ad spend went to Amazon last year, most of which was shifted from Google search budgets. Omnicom spent about $1.2 billion on US search ads in 2018, meaning that it may have moved as much as $240 million to $360 million to Amazon search.

Google could also be facing growing competition from rivals like Facebook, Snap, and Twitter, each of which reported ad revenue growth that matched or exceeded expectations in Q1 versus the prior year.

Google’s ad business might erode slightly, but it will remain dominant in the near term, as it still commands nearly a third (31.1%) of worldwide ad spending. Even though WPP shifted hundreds of millions into Amazon search last year, for example, it still spent $3 billion on Google search advertising in 2018. Further, Amazon is mainly taking ad share from product categories that are sold on its e-commerce platform, meaning it’s doing well among CPG companies.

But other ad categories, like insurance or automotive, are less likely to shift spend to Amazon. Those dollars will continue to flow to Google search. Competition is likely to further heat up over time as the global digital ad pie grows at a slower and slower rate: Growth in global digital advertising spend is projected to decline to just8% by 2023, less than half its projected yearly growth rate of 17.6% in 2019, per eMarketer estimates.

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