The battle between search engines and human beings has moved to a new stage where online advertising and search ads are overtaking the search engine.
What's worse, the humans are winning.
The future of Google took the stage last night at the Googleplex East, or the new Silicon Alley on the Hudson. There wasn't an engineer anywhere in sight.
The former publisher of Rolling Stone was there. So was a former MTV exec.
The only thing is, they both work for Google now.
Google TV Ads
Long Ellis, head of sales, television, kicked off the evening with an elevator pitch for AdWords for TV. Advertisers don't pay-per-click, obviously; instead they pay for impressions. The value proposition? Well, it's the unfortunate acronym, MAO: measurement, accountability, optimization.
MAO probably isn't the hero of most TV ad sales guys or media buyers. They may not get excited that Google doesn't package day-parts or bundle as they do. Google lets you buy "prime time" without being stuck with daytime soaps.
Measurement isn't new to TV. Powering the Google TV enterprise are more than one million set top boxes with Nielsen data overlaid.
Accountability? Let's just say accountability was never the hallmark of three martini lunches.
Optimization? Well that just sounds like a whole lot more work. As search marketers know, optimization enables media spend to be allocated on a daily basis.
The big news? In three weeks, Ellis said Google would launch program targeting, which means you can now get "Lost" on Google TV.
He said there would be "no buyers remorse" because winning advertisers in the auction would only pay for what the second highest bidder bid.
Google Audio Kills Radio
Joseph Anastasi was next up in the Google parade. Joe's an old school radio guy, but Google's not going to let him get away with a title that smacks of the 20th century, so he's "Team Manager, Audio East."
The emcee introduced him with a radio advertising success story where Mimeo received a $30,000 estimate from their agency to produce :30 spots. Instead, he put the job out to auction and got a guy from Des Moines to do it for $500. The agency's consolation prize was writing the copy.
Move over, Madison Avenue. The City of Skywalks has your number.
Google's re-engineering radio. The Google system can put together a 100 market buy in 30 minutes. Ads will be deployed in 24 hours. Advertisers can change copy in less than 24 hours.
The big news? Google Audio will have ROI (define) baked in by the end of the quarter. Advertisers will be able to pull up an audio campaign with unique URL to see Web metrics.
YouTube Changes the World the Way Britney Changes Her Underwear
Sarah Carberry, team manager, consumer packaged goods, is from the agency world. Her job last night: pump up the potential of YouTube to change the world and make the online video world safe for big brands.
"YouTube is a place that encourages meritocracy of ideas," Carberry said. "YouTube empowers people and inspires people to tell their stories."
While that may be true, it's debatable whether their stories need to be told.
After all, empowering Britney Spears is responsible for the "Britney Spears TOPLESS" video featured in the YouTube most popular section. It's not the place for marketers to connect with consumers at a moment of relevancy despite the success of Heinz in selling ketchup with a YouTube CGC contest: "America's Hungry For Ketchup."
In the Catbird Seat: Google Agency Relations
Derek Kuhl, head, agency relations, plugged search marketing firms for their ability to seamlessly transition to media buying in an auction environment. He also identified several key trends -- sea changes -- in the agency world:
He noted there's fear and trepidation among agencies. Small boutiques are winning huge accounts.
His four key Google themes when he talks with agencies:
- Agencies are "able to create more than they've ever created before with more creative." He lamented there's no way of celebrating creativity, but didn't, of course, mention the annual Yahoo Searchlight Awards.
- Analytics is not being relegated just to Web sites. Media planners can use search behavior to learn what consumers are interested or engaged in. Numbers conversations are happening at the planning stage.
- Common currency across media channels necessitates better metrics. If search and radio are linked, how do you evaluate radio versus CPC (define)? Unified budgeting is the answer.
- Agencies a fundamentally rethinking their structure. The current structure isn't working for clients. Agencies seem to have a new model every week: organized around the client, or pulling siloed groups in the agency together. Still, he insisted, it's a great time to be in the agency business.
Google Promises Mission Impossible: Sexy Newspapers
Tiffany Shen Miller, account executive, print ads, promised to make newspapers sexier for the reader and publisher. Newspapers have been called many things, but sexy isn't one of them. That's why TV news was invented.
Google has succeeded, though, in eliminating all the complicated newspaper rate cards. Yet Google Print Ads is not an auction. The humans haven't figured out that one yet.
Miller showcased a 2D bar code on her business card that -- with a smart phone -- enables you to take a photo that takes you directly to a Web site. For advertisers, that holds the promise of placing bar codes on all their agency ads. For consumers, that means taking pictures of bar codes, turning their mobile phones into pimped out bar code scanners.
Miller promised that the bar code pix would "drive a reader instantaneously to a Web site selling a product or service" in the print ad.
Reading a newspaper with one hand while snapping photos of the newspaper with the other? Sounds as if the Google engineers have gotten their hands on the movie remake of the TV series, "Get Smart." Chalk up another one for the humans.
The big news of the night: Google expects to have an end-to-end digital advertising solution and platform for all forms of offline and online ad campaigns within five years, according to Long Ellis.
Tim Castelli, New York sales director, sees Google moving more toward the social community aspect of Web -- Facebook, MySpace, YouTube -- and their collective ability to connect people around common interests, but make them feel part of something bigger.
Derek Kuhl was on message when he told the audience we're not in the content creation business or the agency business.
"Google," he said. "We create marketplaces."
That says it all -- and much better than the new Google meta tags: "Search, Ads, and Apps."