China’s blocking of Google site was widely reported this month, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Reuters, China Insider, and Search Engine Watch. We first observed the service disruption beginning at the end of May.
As of today, Google services are still under disruption. Greatfire.org, a site dedicated to monitoring the Great Firewall of China, reports similar observations. Currently, http://www.google.com.hk is accessible only very rarely, and if you do manage to get to the SERP, clicking on any result link simply results in a timeout. In short, by itself, Google is essentially unusable in China, unless you have a workaround such as using a VPN.
Many of Google’s services have long been inaccessible in China, especially those with elements of user-generated content, such as YouTube, Google+ or Google Drive, but didn’t use to be on the hit list before. The longest to Google search before this happened in November 2012, which only lasted 12 hours. The current disruption affects other more “innocent” products as well, including the Gmail and Google Play app store.
Google has had a dwindling market share in China since this year, starting with 1.7% in January 2014. By May 31st, CNZZ reported only 0.75% usage share. While market share looked grim, many companies were still very active with advertising on AdWords. iResearch reported that Google was amongst the top 3 search engines by revenue in the first quarter of 2014, with nearly 1.4 Trillion RMB in advertising revenue!
Throughout the month of June, however, Google’s market share has further dropped and is now at 0.29%. The blockage will no doubt have a long lasting effect as users are forced to get accustom to using alternatives as well. For us marketers, we have to be where the customers are, and this is going to be a huge factor in continuing advertising on Google. With no word on when services may become available again, likely many will reconsider their budget allocation in the coming months.
Is your company still advertising on Google? Will you hold out a little longer or have you made the switch already? Share with us what you think will happen in the comments!