Website optimisation | 7/05/2024

The battle of Meta AI and Google Search results

Posted by James Dempster

A recent article from Search Engine Land delved deep into the brewing rivalry between Meta AI and Google, offering insights into how these tech titans are revolutionising the world of online search. Here are our thoughts.


The rising contender – Meta AI’s expansion

Meta, parent company of Facebook and Instagram, is harnessing artificial intelligence to deliver a cutting-edge search experience across its platforms. With billions of users actively searching for content, Meta has an unparalleled data set. Their AI development is aiming to deliver a seamless and highly personalised search experience, leveraging user behaviour, social connections, and engagement to tailor results. This ecosystem promises to offer a distinctive alternative to Google’s universal search engine, primarily by understanding the intricate social networks and preferences embedded in its user base.


Meta’s AI-enhanced search capabilities also extend into e-commerce, where search results are more than just text-based queries. Visual searches, voice commands, and personalised recommendations are at the forefront of this technology. They hope to build a system where products, events, and communities align perfectly with the user’s interests. For instance, an Instagram user searching for the best travel destinations would be presented with travel influencers and brands, enabling them to make more informed and personalised decisions.


Google’s stronghold

Google, of course, is no stranger to competition. Its dominant search engine has seen many challengers come and go. What sets Google apart is its diverse and mature product ecosystem, which seamlessly integrates with its search engine. Whether it’s email through Gmail, navigation via Google Maps, or entertainment on YouTube, Google’s data troves provide an immense amount of information to refine their algorithms.


Google’s deep-learning models have significantly evolved over time. Their AI is adept at understanding context, deciphering meaning from incomplete queries, and prioritising useful information based on user habits. With advancements in natural language processing (NLP), Google’s search algorithms are increasingly able to understand conversational queries, making searches feel more intuitive and reducing the frustration of irrelevant results.


Google’s innovation is also evident in its focus on e-commerce. Its Shopping platform connects directly to Google Search and offers retailers a significant advantage. Features like Google Lens for visual searches and tailored recommendations ensure users are finding relevant products quickly.


The differentiators

While Google relies heavily on its historical search data and algorithm refinement, Meta is banking on the interconnectedness of its user base to offer a more socially inclined search experience. Here are some key differences in their approaches:

  1. Social graph. Meta’s advantage lies in the social graph – a deep understanding of how people connect, interact, and engage with each other. By leveraging this data, Meta can provide recommendations that are inherently more social.


  1. Commerce-centric search. Meta’s emphasis on e-commerce isn’t new but is becoming increasingly refined. The company aims to understand the purchasing patterns of individuals based on their social networks, offering products that fit their tastes and preferences.


  1. Google often faces scrutiny over data collection practices. In contrast, Meta positions itself as a privacy-first entity, striving to balance personalised search results while maintaining user trust.


  1. Visual focus. Meta’s platform, particularly Instagram, provides a more image-heavy search experience, which is crucial for industries like fashion, travel, and food.


Challenges ahead

The competition isn’t without challenges for Meta. They are treading into a domain where Google has been a dominant player for decades. Here are some challenges both companies will face:


  1. Ad Revenue. Search engines are pivotal for advertising revenue. Google’s long-standing relationships with advertisers, coupled with its sophisticated targeting capabilities, make it a formidable opponent.


  1. Content authenticity. Both Meta and Google need to ensure the authenticity of search results. With fake news and misinformation rampant, algorithms must be accurate in filtering credible sources.


  1. User adoption. Google’s universal familiarity and extensive market penetration will be challenging for Meta to disrupt.


  1. Regulatory scrutiny. Privacy and data handling are major concerns for both companies. They will need to navigate this carefully to avoid fines and bans.


Final thoughts

In this battle between Meta AI and Google Search, the real winner will be the users. As both companies compete, innovation will accelerate, resulting in more refined, intuitive, and useful search tools. While Google holds a commanding lead today, Meta’s social data could prove to be a wildcard, potentially redefining the search landscape. What remains clear is that this competition will bring about rapid advancements, keeping both tech giants on their toes and offering us a glimpse into the future of search engines.