Everything I Know about Marketing I learned from Google

Jon Kaplan, Google

Jon Kaplan
Industry Director, Financial Services

You’ve been at Google for over 6 years. Why do you like working there so much?

It continues to change every year. I’ve been in the same role [running the finance vertical] for six years but every day the work continues to change.

When I started, [the financial services category] was less than $5 million in revenue. Today, it’s hundreds of millions.

The scope is broader now too. It started with search, then content next, then display, then YouTube, then radio, then print, then TV and now mobile. No other company has the same scope to sell all those [channels] and get expertise across those platforms.

Well, Yahoo, Microsoft, AOL, NBC Universal, etc. certainly offer cross-platform solutions but no-one has been as successful as Google in recent years. Why do you think that is?

Talent. Engineering talent. They’re doing breathtaking stuff. They’re changing the ways things have traditionally been done. They are redefining categories.

Look at Google TV. Historically, you’d go to an agency and negotiate a rate for a 30 second spot. Then you’d place the ad and get a report. Google is completely different. Google measures it differently and prices it differently.

So, [one of the biggest reasons for Google’s success] is people and thought process. The second is the focus on the user.

We’ve had the luxury of a cash cow in search to fund experimental things and invest that other companies without that funding can’t do.

We have talent and time.

But time is infinite so couldn’t others catch up?

We don’t always take time [though]. We launch and iterate. See what works. Get it out there. Get feedback. We launch things raw (like Buzz) and make refinements.

Why do you think [Google’s] Radio and Print [efforts] failed?

There was no revolutionary idea in measurement. The buying processes were unique, the trafficking, etc. The tracking was a little [revolutionary] with the QR codes in print. [But] there was no blockbuster idea to measure the mediums differently.

So is Google TV revolutionary?

It’s a big leap forward. We only charge for the actual number of people that watched an ad. Nielsen says 10 million viewers [watched a certain show] but if people change the channel that’s not captured. [With Google TV,] if 30% of the people change their channel, we only charge for 7 million views.

You can also test and control creative quickly. You can see when [during your commercial] people change the channel.

We can also quantify unmeasured channels. Nielsen can’t measure some of the obscure niche channels. [We can.]

You said earlier, Google has a ton of stuff to sell — search, display, video, TV, mobile. What’s the biggest mistake or your biggest source of frustration when it comes to advertisers figuring out how to take advantage of all the solutions Google offers?

Well, I think the biggest opportunity moving forward is to understand the interaction effects between media. We’re [still] in the initial stages [here].

We see a lift in brand queries from a TV ad. We know people who see display ads search for trademark and brand terms at a higher frequency.

The area [I see] advertisers spending more time now is understanding the true value of a customer. We can’t grow queries but we can understand the true value.

We just launched a product called Search Funnels. It shows you the queries and clicks before a conversion. [It answers the question,] “What is the path to conversion?” This is enlightening advertisers that general terms have value.

Looking at customers that do convert. [For example,] ifan auto insurance customer converts — what is the size of the policy? Risk profile? Churn rate? All these back-end profitability metrics. If you figure out that a Google customer costs more or is less valuable than your average DR customer, wouldn’t you change your bids accordingly?

Attribution and post-conversion profitability metrics [are critical]. Eventually, we’ll have the entire online funnel — on and off Google, search and display, etc.

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