January 17, 2024 – One of the historically most reliable pathways to filling the franchise sales funnel is under siege in 2024. Not only has it fallen to second place behind Microsoft in consumer “mindshare” regarding AI, it faces potentially disruptive regulatory threats, while committing unforced errors of its own in the name of privacy. And this is all happening in the same year that Meta faces a host of its own consumer demand, competitive and regulatory challenges.
Don’t get us wrong. Google is one of the greatest companies the world, and its free search and productivity tools have liberated the planet from vast knowledge gaps and unequal access to information. Google’s YouTube offering not only serves as the second most popular search engine, but also the world’s largest streaming service at over 2 billion users, more than ten times that of Netflix, the world’s largest paid service. Regrettably, it also provides equal access to “bad” information, and struggles over how to identify good from bad reliably – and without prejudice.
With over 20 billion users (10X Netflix) YouTube is the world’s largest streaming platform AND the second most used search engine.
1. Google’s Deal With Apple May Be at Risk
Though Google remains the world’s most-used search engine, that is aided significantly by its mutually beneficial and default search presence on Apple devices, which generates $18 billion billion per year in revenue for Apple, and help make Google a very effective franchise lead generation platform for franchise developers along with millions of other advertisers.
Agreements are always subject to review and change, and who knows what Microsoft would be willing to pay to get an exclusive deal to get its own ChatGPT-powered Bing to be the default search option on bagillions(sp?) of Apple devices.
2. Two Major Antitrust Threats are Coming to a Head
Further, the FTC is going after Google on antitrust grounds, claiming that it is an unlawful monopoly. Closing arguments are in May, and the judge may insist among other remedies that the company break itself up, though the WSJ suggests that more common in cases of monopolies due to mergers.
The DOJ and a group of state attorneys general separately brought a case in January 2023 claiming that Google is an illegal monopoly in advertising on the internet. Pretrial hearings are scheduled for tomorrow, Jan 18, 2024 just in time for Google’s 4th quarter report on January 30th.
3. Google Privacy Initiatives Limit Options for Advertisers
Two years in the making, Google is underway in its elimination of the third-party cookies from its Chrome browser (65% market share) by the end of 2024, as Apple did with browser Safari (19% share) in 2020. Cookies are the unique identifiers tied to a desktop, phone or tablet browser that track user behavior across the internet and report that data back to the owner of the cookie for targeting and measuring ad delivery and effectiveness..
This means that the dominant platform for tracking advertising in place for decades is going away. What does that mean for franchisors? In summary, many options for targeting and retargeting will be limited, except within the private walled gardens of Meta and Google. Ad targeting options by age, income and geography on other (3rd party) sites will be limited.
The popular retargeting of visitors to your franchise development site will be limited to within Instagram/Facebook or Google, using their own targeting platforms..
Finally, your ability to track and target email messages will be further limited given the loss of cookie information, as we have seen with Apple’s own mail privacy initiatives. Apple launched the “ask app not to track” prompt where users are required to opt-in to tracking. How often do you do that?
4+: Supply, Demand, and User Acceptance of AI
There are of course many other countervailing forces that are likely to magnify Google’s impact on franchise development – consumer and advertiser demand, for sure – and we will cover some of those topics soon in their own article.
FranchiseVentures is the leading franchise lead-generation platform for potential franchisees to thousands of growing franchise systems in the United States and Canada. Its franchise lead generation brands include Franchise.com, Franchise Solutions, Franchise Gator, Franchise Opportunities, Franchise For Sale, SmallBusinessStartup.com and BusinessBroker.net, and together they provide the largest aggregation of prospective franchise buyers in the U.S.