1. Analyzing Google's Bargaining Buyers Power
  2. Analyzing Google's Bargaining Supplier Power
  3. Analyzing Google's Degree of Rivalry Among Its Competitors
  4. Analyzing Google's Threat of Substitutes
  5. Analyzing Google's Threat of New Entrants

Google, now a subsidiary of Alphabet, Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL) as of November 2015, is the most trafficked website in the world, at least according to the 2015 rankings by Alexa Internet. By the end of 2014, Google accounted for more than 31% of the global digital advertising market, generating a reported $38.42 billion in ad revenue. In other words, lots of companies are willing to pay lots of money to Google to put the right ads in front of the right consumer.

As a company, Google provides other products and services aside from selling ad space. During the fiscal year 2014, 32% of Google's $68 billion in revenue came from sources other than its own websites. Much of that comes from the AdSense program, which allows non-Google websites to incorporate Google's ads into their websites. Then there are the periphery purchases and research projects, such as self-driving cars and other automated services.

Not all of these have been successful. For example, the company purchased Motorola in 2011 to bolster the Android phone network, infamously leading to a $9.6 billion write-down. The much-anticipated Google Glass project was a flop as well, something angst-ridden shareholders point out while bemoaning Google's focus on nonadvertising income.

Buyers may not be lining up for Google's pet projects, but they keep coming back to spend on ads. However, Google is far from the only option in a market such as the Internet. In fact, potential competitors are virtually limitless online since it takes very little upfront capital cost to build a website and leave room for ads. This kind of flexibility gives ad space buyers a lot of power.

What Creates Buyer Power?

Within the Porter's Five Forces method of investment analysis, the term "buyer" is used instead of "customer." Buyers are said to have power whenever they can influence prices in an industry. To make an economic analogy, buyer power is somewhat analogous to the elasticity of demand for a given product or service. Industries with high degrees of buyer power tend to show fewer profit opportunities, all else being equal.

Buyers exert power in several ways. One version is where buyers make bulk purchases, or where one buyer's purchase constitutes a relatively large portion of income. Another way buyers show power, such as with Google, is with the threat of an easy switch to another company or industry.

Who Are Google's Buyers?

It is easy to assume search engine users are Google's buyers, but that is only superficially true. Most Web-browsing individuals do not send money directly to Google. Instead, some of them click on other company's ads and spend money; it is the other companies that directly generate revenue for Google since they are the ones buying space.

Buyers are not bound to long contracts with Google, and there is very little to prevent them from taking up ad space on a competing website. For example, a furniture company may determine it will sell more chairs and sofas by placing ads through Facebook than through Google, and it can actually complete that entire switch without having to move any physical assets.

Buying Power in Action

In early 2015, Google saw losses in U.S. market share for the first time in decades. Both Google and Yahoo fell below 2014 levels, while Microsoft's Bing realized gains in market share.

Add this to the growing amount of search traffic on social media and e-commerce websites, and it is apparent Google faces stiff competition across the board. There are only two unique elements to the Google ad product: sheer traffic volume and advances in search engine algorithms. It is very easy for a buyer to pick up and switch companies quickly.


Analyzing Google's Bargaining Supplier Power
Related Articles
  1. Investing

    Is Google a Good Investment?

    What are some things investors should know before deciding whether to go for Google? An analysis of the company's fundamentals and outlook.
  2. Small Business

    How Google's Search Engine Makes Money

    A deep analysis of how Google's search engine and related services have made it one of the biggest companies on the planet.
  3. Investing

    The Story Behind Google's Success

    An ongoing commitment to innovation and rapid iteration drives Google's ongoing success.
  4. Investing

    Why Alphabet Will Boost Google Stock Prices

    Why is Google changing its name to Alphabet and what does this mean for shareholders?
  5. Investing

    How Does Google Make Its Money?

    Google seems to be a company with no real product. This article looks at where its billions of dollars of revenue come from.
  6. Investing

    Google's 6 Most Profitable Lines of Business (GOOGL)

    Learn about the most profitable business lines from Google, and find out their impact on the company's bottom line and outlook in the near future.
  7. Personal Finance

    Google Faces EU Antitrust Charges (GOOGL)

    Google, which could be fined up to $7.4 billion, has been accused of anti-competitive practices.
  8. Investing

    Top 4 Companies Owned by Google

    These four companies are household names. What they all have in common is being owned by Google.
Frequently Asked Questions
  1. Why Do Most of My Mortgage Payments Start Out as Interest?

    Fear not: Over the life of the mortgage, the portions of interest to principal will change.
  2. What is the difference between secured and unsecured debts?

    The differences between secured and unsecured debt, and how banks buffer risks associated with each type of loan through ...
  3. How Many Times has Warren Buffett Been Married?

    Warren Buffett has been married twice in his life, but the circumstances surrounding the marriages were unconventional.
  4. What's the smallest number of shares of stock that I can buy?

    Many people would say the smallest number of shares an investor can purchase is one, but the real answer is not as straightforward. ...
Trading Center