This article is from WeChat official account: Juchao Business Review (ID: tide-biz)< / span> , author: North, editor: Yang Ran, head – source: “The Avengers 3: infinite war” span> p>
In the mobile era, the Internet seems to be heading in the opposite direction: information and services are scattered in various closed apps.
Netease Cloud Music and Tencent Music integrate a large number of music resources, which are sufficient to meet the needs of consumers for listening to music. But users need to pay in the APP to get all music services;
In the Toutiao app, a collection of graphic articles created by a large number of content workers in China. Users can search for what they need here. But even with such a “smoky sea” content pool, 200,000 to 300,000 items are distributed every day, which is completely different from the entire network’s tens of billions and tens of billions of content;
On various live broadcast platforms such as Douyu, Momo, Douyin, Kuaishou, etc., people who are alive and have personality attributes are providing all kinds of content, but users must search for them in fragments on each platform. On the whole, it is still an inefficient market.
The isolated islands of information that are not connected to each other have made the Internet “not connected to each other.” Perhaps most users are accustomed to the status quo, but in the inconvenient fragmented search action, people will still be surprised: this should not be the essence of the Internet.
In the limited island space, infinite value cannot be created. The business and value of Internet companies are thus restricted.
Like the PC Internet era, search engines need to take on the mission of “connection” again, connecting a deep well in the era of mobile Internet, so that the entrance of the Internet can be concentrated again to maximize utility.
Under such a situation, a search war for the entrance is rekindled again, and this battlefield is infinitely huge.
Entrance battle: the return of the big platform
Search seems to be ubiquitous in the mobile era, but it is actually less efficient for users.
Apps such as “Enterprise Check” and “Tianyan Check” are search tools that help people understand the company’s public information.
Now these apps are essential tools for many businessmen and financial journalists, and they need to pay a certain amount as a membership fee. Users also acquiesce in the value of this search: fraud prevention and risk filtering.
In the PC era, Baidu will not make its own business (or call it service capability) specific to this level. So it emerged and occupied the vertical market.
In this small-scale “entrance war”, Tianyancha was once victorious, but in the end they had to face Baidu’s counterattack. Who will win, who will lose, once again there is suspense. This is just a small example.
In the PC era, search engines were once the only entrance to the Internet. In the interconnected network world, people get all the information they want through search engines.
This situation has changed in the mobile era: After acquiring certain information resources, APPs in each segment are building their own ecosystems, and users can bypass search engines to obtain information.
This is actually a kind of “vertical segmentation” thinking. Those apps that have accumulated industry accumulation, can insight into industry development trends, and provide key content, have become channels for contact between industry and users.
The relationship between these channels and Baidu is very subtle, with both complementary and competitive sides. The user’s search behavior is unknowingly divided up, which generates corporate value:
If you want to search for travel information, you will go to Ctrip to form an enterprise with a market value of 160 billion yuan;
Go to Xiaohongshu for searching for clothing, fashion and new consumption, so that Xiaohongshu has a valuation of 42 billion yuan before it goes public;
Looking for local life services to Meituan gave birth to a giant of 2 trillion yuan…
The battle for the entrance finally allowed a group of companies to win the vertical search and reap great value.
However, search seems to be ubiquitous in the mobile era, but it is actually less efficient for users, and the overall interconnection of the Internet no longer exists. This is not in line with the nature of the Internet. Mobile apps that are not connected to each other hinder users’ access to information. As a result, the market began to repair itself.
Travel categories represented by Mafengwo and Tuniu, Guazi and Youxin, which need to be opened when trading second-hand cars, are left unused when users no longer have such needs. Some apps that are used more frequently can continue to provide users with information and services.
High-frequency applications are frequently opened by users, and low-frequency categories are only used when users need them. The distinction between the two becomes clearer. In the end, high frequency swallows low frequency, and low frequency vertical applications become a function and part of high frequency applications.
For example, Meituan is no longer a pure takeaway platform, but has become a local life service search engine by integrating entertainment, travel, movie performances and other vertical apps; WeChat is no longer a pure social app. In the Wechat Open Class of 2015, Zhang Xiaolong announced that the monthly active users of Wechat Souyisou had reached 500 million, “Users have gradually developed the habit of searching through Wechat.”
High-frequency apps cannibalize low-frequency apps. Users and traffic return to a few super-apps with aggregation capabilities. The number of vertical portals is limited, and the era of “big platform” is returning. WeChat, Meituan, and Baidu APP are all representative.
Search Revolution: From Information to Service
From providing complex information to providing specific and specialized services, this is the servitization of search.
But compared to the PC era, the key to victory has changed.
In the PC era, search engines connect people and information. Whoever can provide enough and effective information can control the largest entrance and become a giant.
Butin the mobile era, the end of search is no longer “information” but service:
Proactively search for “fascia gun”, buy directly after getting relevant information, or even search for information directly in the purchase APP (see “Seller Show” and Various user feedback, watch the video introduction of the function);
Users who search for medical beauty information on the Internet want more direct and effective medical beauty services, so “medical beauty agency operation” and medical beauty apps are responsible for connecting users with medical beauty institutions and products;
Users search for consumption information such as catering, can accept being guided to consumption scenes by APP, and then directly order and pay.
Users hope to be able to view effective information more conveniently and efficiently, so as to prevent picking and choosing and wasting time in the complex information provided by search engines. From providing complex information to providing specific and specialized services, this is the servitization of search. This is the inevitable direction for the development of a new generation of search engines. From the original search distribution to the provision of services, the provision of personalized content and interactive experience is the most significant upgrade of search engines.
This is completely different from what search engines did in the previous era—providing URLs for searchers to click on, providing news information for searchers to judge whether they are true or not, and providing business information for searchers to identify themselves—is completely different.
Another obvious trend is personalization of search, which is of great significance for improving the content quality and service capabilities of search engines.
In the PC era, QQ connects people to people. In the mobile era, WeChat connects acquaintances, and Momo connects strangers. In addition, there is another way to connect between people, which is the social interaction between the needs of users and the individuals who can meet this need.
For example, when a user read an article in the past, search engines connected people with the content, but the user did not connect with the author behind the text. If readers can talk and communicate with the people behind the text, the reader’s understanding and experience of the content will be greatly improved, and the trust in the content will also be strengthened.
Reflected in the search tool, that is, users can not only search for content, but also directly establish contact with content providers, and these providers can deliver more information to users through live broadcasts and other methods.
Search engines no longer only provide cold information. Individual service needs are further satisfied. The barriers of different products are being broken. Search engines are beginning to address practical problems, matching more knowledgeable individuals, and greatly improving social production efficiency.
Unlimited battlefield: tap unlimited value
This infinite battlefield has two connotations, one is the diversification of forms, and the other is the infinite depth of service.
On December 9, 2020, Door Dash, a food delivery service platform founded by three Chinese guys in the United States, went public, and its market value quickly rose to US$50 billion, and it continued to grow at an annual revenue growth rate of more than 100%.
However, in the process, the traditional search giant has not been challenged, and Google’s stock price and market value have not undergone any changes. So far, its total market value is still as high as 1.4 trillion US dollars.
This is a confusing situation. Where is the boundary of the search engine? The change in its definition directly determines our judgment on the value of search.
If you think of search as “the action in the search box of Google and Baidu”, then what we will see is that many Internet companies are also meeting their user needs through on-site search, forming small search + service companies. However, looking at the market from a higher-dimensional perspective, the actual situation is that search is an infinite battlefield constructed by user needs and commercial organization supply:
The action of all Internet users looking for information and services is search; the action of all search engines to provide users with results is search; all companies spontaneously participate in the search action and become users to obtain information and services Part of it is search.
This infinite battlefield has two connotations, one is the connotation of form, including graphic search, video search, live search, search in various scenes, including traditional search box search, and voice interaction; the other connotation It is the infinite depth of services, including countless vertical services for users composed of various businesses.
When the search engine receives a user’s search request, does it push it to third-party merchants by charging advertising fees, or does it push itself to participate in the service capabilities?
This represents two completely different ways of profiting, reflecting the in-depth value of search and providing users withThe unlimitedness of service.
In an infinite battlefield, enterprises can obtain value scale, and they can be expanded infinitely.
Search is evolving from a “war in the search box” to an infinite war.
The starting point of this war is the needs of users. In the era of asymmetric information and scarce service capabilities on the Internet platform, search engines only need to provide information to exchange value, which is easier to make money.
But making easy money is not the end of a company’s progress.
For search engines to gain greater market space and profitability, they need to break through the shackles of the previous business model and devote themselves to services.
We call it the infinite battlefield of search. All concrete services in this battlefield are part of the era of great search. In this era, what we see is the success of Meituan, Ctrip, DoorDash and Slack, and the limitations of these companies.
Observing from a higher dimension, you can get a completely different perspective: search engines have once again become a large platform that runs through every vertical deep well in the mobile Internet era. Unlike the PC era, this time, the traditional search giants have to do it themselves.