Below are key drivers of Google's value that present opportunities for upside or downside to the current Trefis price estimate for Google:
For additional details, select a driver above or select a division from the interactive Trefis split for Google at the top of the page.
Google.com and Google's international sites (e.g. Google.ru, Google.com.br, and others) offer a dedicated platform to conduct searches on the Internet through PCs and wireless devices.
Google makes money from contextual advertising known as keyword advertising that is shown based on the type of search a user conducts. For example, a user searching for "NYC restaurants" would be shown a variety of ads on the right-hand side of Google's search results pertaining to restaurants and food services in New York City.
Advertisers on Google bid for keywords (such as "NYC restaurants ") to display their advertisements on the Google search page. Google AdWords allows these advertisers to display advertisements in Google's search results and the Google Content Network through either a cost-per-click or cost-per-view scheme. The pricing of keywords, the inventory of keywords available, and the frequency of user search, impact how much money Google makes on search.
In addition to advertising on its search engine, Google makes money by placing advertisements on other Google-owned properties such as video sharing site YouTube, social networking site Orkut, email service Google Mail (Gmail), etc. Google also makes money by facilitating the placement of advertising on its "partner" websites (via ad serving application AdSense) from which it receives a share of the advertising revenue.
Google search on mobile is increasingly gaining importance as more and more users are shifting towards mobile devices like smartphones and tablets for web browsing. According to our estimates derived from publicly available sources, tablets and smartphones are expected to surpass PC's in use globally by around 2015. As a result, mobile search would increasingly gain importance for Google, rivaling its PC-based search in contributing towards Google's stock.
We believe Google Search Ads is much more valuable than Ad Partnerships for Search & Content, YouTube, Gmail, Orkut and other divisions due to the following reasons:
Google's flagship search business continues to dominate globally. Competitors like Yahoo and Microsoft have been consistently pushed back as Google retains market shares of around 65% and 90% in PC and mobile devices respectively. The company's superior algorithms and brand recognition have clearly found favor with users, and till date the search engine market has not boasted of a better search tool. Given the current trends, Google's dominance is expected to continue, although one cannot discount future technologies such as Apple's Siri as possible future threats.
As web penetration increases across emerging markets like India, users are expected to increasingly become more familiar and comfortable with using web search as the flagship tool to look for information. In addition to this, web browser development has increasingly made it easier to promptly do a web search. For example, Google Chrome obviates the need to actually open the Google homepage to do a search. These above factors should contribute significantly in growing web searches for every PC device globally.
The mobile revolution would have a big role to play in the way Google search is utilized. Smartphone and tablet capabilities are improving by leaps and bounds. This includes personal usage like finding restaurants and utilizing maps and GPS (Global Positioning System), as well as professional uses such as sending/receiving e-mails and making presentations. As bandwidths increase in emerging markets, mobile device functionality is expected to come at par with PCs in the coming years. This should lead to a substantial increase in the number of mobile devices in use globally.
We estimate Google's revenue per 1,000 searches (RPS) on mobile devices to be around $6.5 in 2013 and expected to reach close to $8.4 going forward. Advertisers are increasingly recognizing that users spend a lot of time on their smartphones/tablets, with activities including music, watching videos and social networking. As a result, monetization of search on mobile devices should increase, closing in on RPS levels for PC-searches.
We expect increasing adoption of Internet search capable mobile phones, higher mobile Internet speeds, and increasing partnerships between search engines and mobile phone manufacturers (for e.g. think Google search on iPhone). According to a report by RBC Capital Markets, global mobile searches were around 20% of total searches in 2013. Google's open source mobile OS, the Android, should greatly benefit from this, as it uses Google search as the default search option. The Android also has the advantage of being used by multiple manufacturers, including Samsung and HTC.
In contrast to search, which is more functional and commercial in nature, online video and social networking are more entertainment-focused, where ads are generally seen as a distraction. Currently, ads displayed on such platforms are graphical and static in nature, which do not drive the same recall as a moving video (e.g. television ads). As YouTube and other video sharing sites figure out better ways of displaying ads which are not intrusive and do not interfere much with the user experience (like Revision3's in-video interactive clickable ads), advertisers will be willing to pay more for such ads, driving up overall video advertising monetization.
Google and its Android-OEM partners like Samsung continue be plagued by patent infringement lawsuits from arch rivals like Apple and Microsoft. In some regions like Germany, Apple has successfully ensured that certain Android-powered devices are banned from imports. On the other end, Microsoft has made sure that it extracts a licensing fee from every Samsung Galaxy S-IV smartphone that is sold. Given the cut-throat competition that prevails in the smartphone and tablet sector, patent wars are expected to rage on in the coming years as well, threatening Android's market share in the mobile OS market. For now, Google has tried to build its own patent moat by acquiring Motorola Mobility in August 2011, raising its patent portfolio from less than 1,000 to over 17,000.
Apple's voice-enabled search tool Siri has found a lot of favor with users, as it provides an even simpler and hands-free approach towards web search. While still not a credible threat, Siri could be paving the way for voice-enabled search becoming the norm, and Google might need to follow suit with its own version.
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