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As our online behavior changes, companies spend less ad money on Google and Meta

Heard on:
A photo shows the logo sign of Google.

While Google is still a big part of the ad business, people are turning to sites like Amazon "as a product search engine instead," said Sucharita Kodali, a retail analyst at Forrester. Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

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Last year, for the first time since 2014, Google and Meta collectively brought in less than half of all U.S. digital advertising spending.

Some of it has to do with Apple requiring apps to ask users if they want to be tracked. Some of it has to do with more advertisers flocking to streaming. But a lot of it has to do with how social media is changing and how different platforms influence how we shop.

My TikTok is here to suggest a solution to a very specific problem: “We all know the struggle of running low on toothpaste and trying to use every last bit in the tube, so with this device you can just twist and it squeezes all the toothpaste right out,” the video’s narrator says.

I’m not sure if this video is part of a marketing campaign. But it may have started that way, said Courtney Spritzer, CEO of the marketing agency Socialfly. Her clients’ ad spending on TikTok has doubled in the last year.

“Brands can either post content organically to reach their audience or they could hire creators or influencers to create content on behalf of their brand,” she said.

And once those products start trending, other TikTokers review the same ones. 

Embarrassing admission: I bought the stupid toothpaste squeezer. And when I did, I went straight from the influencer’s shopping link in her profile to Amazon.

“The ad is actually reaching you at point of sale, so it’s making it super easy for you to click into something and purchase it immediately,” said Kaitlin Ceckowski, a marketing analyst at Mintel.

That’s eliminating what used to be a more common part of online shopping: Google searches.

“People use Amazon as a product search engine instead of Google,” said Sucharita Kodali, a retail analyst at Forrester.

Still, she said that Google is a big part of the ad business — especially when it comes to product reviews. Not everyone is going to trust an influencer when they’re considering more expensive items like an air fryer or that darn Dyson Airwrap that takes up half my feed.

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