After months of speculation, Google has entered the home services market, by making it easier for homeowners to find plumbers, locksmiths and handymen without ever leaving the search box.
But its launch is not about copying what Amazon announced a few months ago. Even though the timing is similar, and the topic is identical, the two companies are sticking with they know best. For Google, it’s ads, and for Amazon it’s marketplaces.
On Friday, Google officially rolled out Home Service ads, a new beta program that returns results for certain service providers when a user conducts a search. For instance, when you search for “clogged toilet,” users will see three options for plumbers without ever having to leave the page.
Currently, the beta program is only live in San Francisco and works for certain trades, such as handyman services, plumbers, cleaning services and locksmiths. Google ensures that all the professionals pass criminal background checks, and is up to date on any trade licenses, but it does not guarantee or set a price for services or collect money from customers.
That’s much different from Amazon, which launched Amazon Home Services nationally in March. Customers on Amazon can browse, purchase and schedule professional services, ranging from installing a new garbage disposal to hanging a new light fixture right on Amazon’s website.
Amazon sets the price in many cases, collects the fees and keeps a hefty percentage for itself as the cost of doing business. It even goes as far as guaranteeing the work by ensuring the job gets done right or promising a refund.
Google hasn’t disclosed its pricing model for the program, and since it’s still in beta, the final pricing is in flux. However, since the program resides in Adwords Express, it will likely follow a similar course, meaning that the service providers will only pay when potential customers click on an ad for more information. (In one example, it recommends a budget of about $5 a day for a photographer in the San Francisco area to get up to 100 clicks to their website a month.)
With both companies’ launches, it means they will be meddling in the very competitive home services category that is already flooded by tech companies trying to modernize the space. Some of the sites have been around for years, like Angie’s List and Yelp, but others are newer, including Pro.com, HomeAdvisor, Porch and other startups.
Google and Amazon are constantly overlapping, often times taking a slightly different approach to the market. In this case, it’s no different.