Last week, Google quietly made a major play for the home improvement sector, and it’s gone widely unnoticed so far. By using HomeAdvisor’s instant booking services, Google will soon allow its search users to schedule appointments with pre-approved home improvement companies in their area. And while a partnership between Google and HomeAdvisor might not seem particularly consequential in the grand scheme of things, Google has in fact planted another flag in a new corner of the digital world.
So why hasn’t the news generated more headlines? Firstly, HomeAdvisor and Google made the announcement on Friday, a time-tested technique for avoiding headlines. Not only that, but news of student protests at Yale and the University of Missouri, then brutal terrorist attacks in Paris have generated non-stop coverage in the days since the announcement.
Earlier this year, Google began testing a new feature — pre-screened home improvement search results for consumers in the San Francisco Bay Area. Before that, Amazon began testing a similar feature in dozens of cities around the country. And in early November, HomeAdvisor’s parent company IAC made a bid to acquire Angie’s List.
What’s next? Google will begin to roll out a “Book Now” feature, through either Google Maps or Google Places.
Home improvement is a profitable sector, especially now that the housing market has improved. Most homeowners will spend 1-4% of their home’s value on annual repairs and maintenance, which doesn’t even factor in the costs of lucrative renovation projects. Also this November, Home Depot announced that third quarter net sales were up 6.4% compared to 2013.
Chris Terrill, the CEO of HomeAdvisor, says the project will drive traffic to small businesses, using both Google’s massive index of the known digital world and HomeAdvisor’s national network of home improvement contractors.
All year tech writers have been closely watching the Google-Amazon competition for the home improvement sector, and Google appears to have just leaped ahead with the HomeAdvisor deal.
Google’s search results can drive huge amounts of business to small companies like plumbers, roofing contractors, and locksmiths, but whether consumers actually want a “Book Now” feature remains to be seen.