Everything I Know about Marketing I learned from Google

Bill Wise, MediaBank

Bill Wise
VP/GM, Display Ad Products

(Update 6/15/10: Wise is now CEO of MediaBank)

Which of the lessons below resonates with you the most and why?

So many of your lessons resonate with me, but the one that resonates the most is “Let the data decide”.

Digital advertising has allowed us, as marketers, to reduce emotion and replace it with hard data.

Let me try to explain. When the average person thinks broadly of advertising, the first thing they think of is TV commercials. Because broadcast has the unique ability to influence consumer behavior, elicit an emotion, and/or create a brand… the medium is largely driven by CREATIVE and ART. It’s a branding medium.

However, other advertising mediums are further down in the purchasing funnel (direct response mediums) and allow marketers to track how advertising directly attributes to lead or sale of their product or service. These mediums are driven more by SCIENCE and DATA.

Digital advertising, including search marketing, has been a huge catalyst to ensure marketing dollars are held accountable to a positive return on investment. The Internet has so much data to help marketers optimize their advertising campaigns, one must put emotion and research aside, and let the data decide.

For decades, we believed in a healthy mix of art and science to run an ad campaign. However, we now have powerful real-time data at our fingertips to eliminate our natural intuition and emotion, only to be replaced with data. Google and Yahoo have capitalized on leveraging the direct measurement of return on ad spend to influence share shift from other mediums.

I believe as consumers watch less television, subscribe to less magazines, and read less newspapers… they will open their computers, surf the web, search for products, text their friends, watch their favorite TV shows online and consume media differently. At that point, leveraging DATA to target people with the right advertisement, with the right message at exactly the right time changes advertising as we know it.

What’s your current role and how did you land it?

During my time as CEO of Did-it, we were the largest independent search marketing firm, and had a 3 year growth rate of 1,368.5%, which ranked us #137 in the Inc 500 of fastest growing private companies. This is where I fell in love with the concept of search marketing and “auctioned-based media.” I truly believed what Google did for search, someone could do the same for the digital display advertising market.

That’s when I joined Right Media, inventor of the display ad aexchange, to run our media & SaaS business. Yahoo believed in our business model and vision, and acquired us. Since then, I have been running display ad products, including the ad exchange business.

What broader marketing lessons did your brief stint in SEM teach you? What specific skillsets from SEM translate well to broader marketing, media, and technology disciplines?

The “ah-ha” moment for me during my stint in SEM was when I witnessed CMO’s (chief marketing officers) spending more time in the CFO’s office then the CEO’s office. Google turned advertising from an operating expense to a cost of good sold. Marketing departments are being held accountable to a P&L. They are expected to track direct profit contribution and return on advertising spend. Marketing departments are now hiring financial analysts and statisticians. This would have been unheard of a decade ago.

What does Google look like in 10 years?

Search marketing is a natural “lean forward experience” and marketing ROI [return on investment] can be optimized in near real-time. Consumers search for something specific and BAM… there you have it! One can understand why advertising dollars starting pouring in.

However, there are three specific risks to Google:

1. People will get more sophisticated as to how to navigate the internet (and search less).

2. People will consume more TV-like video online,

3. People will use their mobile devices more to search and navigate locally.

Thus, Google needs to:

1. Diversify into the display advertising market and eliminate their tremendous concentration risk on search marketing

2. Represent more “brand friendly” and professional video inventory that marketers will want to associate with (not low-brow user generated content you typically find on YouTube).

3. Have a significant operating system for ALL hand-held devices. Instead of typing words into a search box, users will be speaking their searches into their phones, and will be using hand-held devices to replace desktop computers.

In less than 140 characters, what’s the single most important thing you’ve learned from Google?

Marketing is now a cost of goods sold, not an operating expense. Plus, innovate or die…

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