Google Advice: What Now? What Next?

Dennis Woodside at The Paley Center for Media, March 16, 2010.

Google Advice: What Now? What Next?

I just finished watching, one of my favorite websites. Barbara Walters eloquently introduced Dennis Woodside, Google’s VP of Americas Operations. He spoke on advertising, technology and his work with Google.

Watch the Presentation on Fora.TV

One of his roles is to help large organizations understand what’s next in technology (mobile, tablets, web books) and how to recreate the online successes of their flourishing brands.  Often one division will experience success while others lag. With more and more people spending their lives online, it’s no wonder the phrase “getting in front of the consumer” was frequently used. People are very sophisticated in their research and will often arrive at your website or store knowing more about your product or service than the salesperson.

Mr. Woodside asked of businesses “what kind of web experience are you trying to create?” We are beyond the online brochure and playing at a higher level of interaction now. He believes with over 40 million US users looking at YouTube’s home page, video is a powerful method of reaching and engaging consumers. I couldn’t agree more. It’s also my understanding that video search isn’t as saturated and therefore offers great SEO benefits.

There were a few questions on privacy. “With a greater understanding of people’s needs, we can serve them better” is his answer in a nutshell. “Who wouldn’t want to see an ad for a car if you are in the market to buy?” On the other hand he says technology is there to assist. “It can create opportunities or it can be a bad thing. We’ll continue to struggle with this for some time.” True. We do now have the power to serve our customers better. We have the ability to test which ad works instantly. It’s a unique medium because we can understand our return on advertising investment.

Technology continues to invade our privacy for better or for worse. He mentioned “FourSquare“ a few times which seems to be a website application that helps you can connect instantly with people, places, products and services near you, wherever you are, from your mobile phone. I heard about something similar last year at WordCamp. I’m sure we’ll see a lot more of this type of social networking to come.

What about open source and closed source (another shift driven by Web 2.0’s sharing nature)? How do we monetize when so much is free? TV Everywhere was referenced. Mr. Woodside delivered no quick solutions. With a sense of leadership, he instead offered the perspective on journalism that more people than ever are better read because of this change. It is suggested that while there may be discomfort, that in the long term we are better off. He assured us that monetizing would naturally follow people’s preferences. Google will continue to support with display advertising in the meantime.

My takeaways? Big change continues to be underway shifting the entire economic structure we have grown so comfortable with. The good news? If you’re looking forward you’ll find opportunities. Get online with video and think local (mobile, tablets, web books, social networking and local search).

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