Here are my notes on the interesting points in Google’s presentation to Goldman Sachs’ Tech and Internet Conference. It’s noteworthy not just for seeing the trends in where they’re going, but for the principles that govern their thinking and the way they want to be perceived.
1) Google saw Japanese users paying relatively less attention to ads vs organics results. They moved the Roman characters to a third line so it interfered less with the appearance of the Kanji script (Japanese lettering). This resulted in users paying more attention, clicking more and raising revenue. This was a “better user experience.”
Naturally, the following question was regarding the line between user experience vs revenue. Specifically, charges that Google makes the background too light and indistinguishable such that people don’t realize they’re ads.
Answer: They’ve run tests and picked particular colors for the sake of making it sufficiently obvious, e.g. for users of a particular Mac laptop. (Around 6:30 – 8:00 minutes in.) Thought: Are they serving different style sheets according to the device? Hmmm … sounds quite similar to things I’ve shared in my book regarding dynamic navigation on lead gen sites.
– The interviewer asked whether it’s the case whether intermediaries and destinations are now going to be competing for placement – takes some cojones to not just throw softballs :). The downside is that he doesn’t follow up and challenge any of the spokesperson’s comments but just accepts whatever is said. Not clear if he’s being too polite or is not sufficiently informed or if he feels the answers are satisfactory.
“The focus is just on providing the best experience to the user,” “a place where they can find all the information they need on the business,” including reviews. “If that’s not the business’ site [responding here to complaints about displacing the organic listing for the business’ site], then “that’s just the way it is.”
– But Google places ties into the ability to just click through and book a room, for instance…
– Google’s providing the opportunity to go to “OTAs” (online travel agencies? slang for booking sites a la Expedia I guess?) as well as the original site. Good for user experience [and for the auction’s bids]. “We’re very clearly not doing the booking on Google itself, not entering into fulfillment.” [At least, until you fully integrate ITA Software and run a Google Comparison Ads type CPA auction? (G Comparison Ads are financial price-comparison ads that allow people to compare interest rates on mortgages etc.]
– Don’t shrink a desktop experience onto a mobile – design for the mobile experience itself.
– There are some points where mobile is outright better than desktop – knowing where you are, having a speaker/mic, GPS integrated, etc.
– Names two areas where click-to-call monetizes well on mobile: home insurance and home security and alarm systems…
– They’re not too excited about adding lots of salespeople for local but prefer simplifying the ad product to get more SMBs on board.
He’s very bullish. Wants to get product inventories and companies’ CPA bids to match against their search inventory. The strategy has been to go after the top 500 retailers in the US and to grow that way.
– What about using flashier ads, essentially taking the integration of product ads’ images a step further?
– They tested banners in China and that worked very poorly. Their preference/paradigm is to include the relevant info on a page – be it pics, pricing, merchant reviews, product reviews, etc.
– The ultimate goal is that they can have both higher CPAs as well as more transactions in absolute numbers going on – they can show the products that are most likely to convert. [I read this as Google’s going to optimize AdWords to show ads from higher converting advertisers, further squeezing the fat out of the ecosystem – e.g. of dumb advertisers with deep pockets and low conversion rates.]
– Google Checkout is not something they’re forcing on companies who want to use Google CPA. [Of course not, they’re just incentivizing it with notably higher CTRs. They can’t openly say that they want to integrate this closely because that would get them in hot antitrust waters.]