I noticed an interesting banner last week and followed it back to this site: http://www.google.com/adwords/watchthisspace.
It is an extremely interesting and compelling presentation about Google’s fresh attempt to position itself as a one-stop shop for online display advertising. We know that they have been making inroads in all sorts of areas (Google Display Network, Google Ad Exchange, etc.) for some time, but this is the first time I have seen it packaged up so nicely and squarely targeted at advertisers, ad agencies, etc. Google does have the muscle to resolve a lot of the issues that plague our industry through integrating all of their solutions and makes a compelling case for using their platform.
What does this mean for all the rest of us? I think that remains to be seen, but it is clear that Google sees value in aggressively pursuing the dollars that are currently running through other ad networks. If they can do for display what they did for SEM by making it ultra-turnkey to flight display campaigns, it could change the way people are buying display advertising, even at the biggest shops.
That said, what Google has in technology, it lacks in customer service. We know this from the stories we hear from many of our clients. It is their ubiquity that makes it hard to provide a customer experience (not computer user experience) that many businesses and agencies need. Their hands are in almost every pot. Even some of their technologies acquisitions have been orphaned to focus on others (Doubleclick being the most relevant example here).
The other thing that Google doesn’t do is create brilliant advertising concepts. It’s one thing to own the network and develop tools to analyze success of online marketing campaigns from a metric perspective, but coming up with the idea that will affect consumers’ buying decisions is another. Admittedly that’s not Google’s business, but in the rapidly changing advertising marketplace, technological innovation is often confused with marketing insight. Good ad units, networks, and metrics do not a great marketing campaign make. They are simply the vehicles for the ideas that will turn heads and open pocketbooks. What makes advertising work is the compelling, inspiring, revolutionary presentation of ideas that inform the way people see their own needs/wants/desires. This has nothing to do with technology. It has to do with creativity.
When they finally make their move as it seems they are now (look at the cover of Advertising Age), Google moves with such force that it seems like the entire playbook is being rewritten. We all know that it isn’t, but when a giant moves the ground definitely shakes. The best thing about giants for all of us little guys is that they can’t move or turn fast. That leaves lots of room for us to operate as the David to their Goliath (and we know who won that battle). We had best be ready to do what only we can do and do it better: serve our customers with excellence and help them cultivate the genius ideas that will help their businesses engage the marketplace. We can’t confuse what we do best with what the Googles of the world do best.
Then again, this could all just be a bunch of amazing advertising on Google’s part…