Will These Acquisitions Help Google Compete with Amazon?

Google has a massive pile of cash and is willing to spend to beef up Google Shopping. Will predictive marketing help it compete with Amazon?

May 7, 2014 at 11:05AM

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) is making acquisitions to build up Google Shopping, its retail portal, in an apparent effort to turn up the heat on Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN). The search giant acquired two London-based firms this year, Rangespan and DeepMind. Both could improve Google Shopping's ability to put products you want front and center, creating a more appealing list of products in an attempt to get ahead of buying waves. This could increase its sales volume while streamlining distribution for companies on the Google Shopping platform.

Rangespan can help catch buying trends in real time
Rangespan, acquired last week and founded in 2011, works behind the scenes of a shopping portal, analyzing data and real-time sales analytics. The analysis helps online retailers assess the market and predict which products and categories might be starting to trend. By staying ahead of the curve, retailers could offer products just as they're beginning to get popular, instead of trying to catch a hot sales trend after the peak.

According to TechCrunch, Rangespan consists of just four people and was founded by Matt Henderson and Ryan Regan, both former high-ranking Amazon employees. Henderson worked as a director of merchant services in the U.K., while Regan served for eight years in different roles, including managing director. Regan went on to say that "There are a lot of parallels between what we are doing and what Google is doing, and we are excited to work together."

DeepMind can help Google predict future trends
In addition to Rangespan, Google acquired DeepMind, a British company focusing on artificial intelligence. DeepMind uses machine learning to build algorithms for use in simulations, e-commerce, and games. But beyond its splash page, there is little detail available on the company.

Will this help Google Shopping compete more effectively?
Like Amazon, Google Shopping is a platform for online merchants to connect with customers, but Google appears to be making a deeper effort to use real-time and predictive analysis for product placement and advertising. By using technology from Rangespan, Google could be able to get current popular deals in front of potential customers while using Deepmind to anticipate follow-on opportunities or to proactively offer more appealing daily deals or advertising.

Is the day of the Internet start-up behind us?
The world of online services is quickly drawing tighter, as Amazon, Google and Apple more aggressively compete with each other in the areas of commerce, subscription music services, gaming, online video and eventually electronic payments. It seems that if you can go to the web for fulfillment, one or all of these companies is offering a solution to make it easier, quicker, or cheaper.

As large companies like Google are able to leverage the cash flow from other businesses like paid search -- or in the case of Apple, smartphones, tablets, and notebooks -- is the day of the start-up Internet company behind us? Will companies like Pandora and Groupon be able to compete? Or will they be forced to become a part of a larger entity?

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David Eller has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Amazon.com and Google (C shares). The Motley Fool owns shares of Amazon.com and Google (C shares). Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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