Everything I Know about Marketing I learned from Google

Riki Nakasuji, Google

Riki Nakasuji
North American Agency Lead, Online Sales and Operations

How long have you worked at Google?

7 years. I started out approving ads. Literally, I would manually review text ads for things like repetition and other violations. All that’s now automated or handled in India.

After 3 months, I moved into email support. 9 months later, I joined the optimization team. I was very keen on that because I wanted to understand the psychology behind search behavior.

What I found fascinated me. People search very differently. The same search for a car would play out very differently among different people. It was often not at all linear. The reason for this is that people are very different. It’s like the word association part of the SAT’s. This is to that as this is to that. I never did well on those because it was so ambiguous. Who’s to say what the relationship between A and B really is?

This has made it imperative for Google to change results and that’s why we’re doing more real-time, video plus-boxes, etc.

What’s your current role?

I’m now the senior manager for North American agency development.

How big is your team?

There 80 people on my team.

How does Google work with agencies? What kinds of challenges do you face?

We work with all different types of agencies. The challenge is really helping them evolve. They’re still fighting with each other over budget dollars.

One client I talked to today had separate agencies for search, display, and traditional media. They weren’t talking to each other. My role became helping them communicate and making sure the idea got translated from one group to the next.

It’s very sensitive because you don’t want to overstep your bounds. When Google plays a lead role we sometimes get anti-establishment attitudes because people worry about becoming too Google-centric.

Will Google replace agencies?

No. There will always be a need for someone to come up with the big idea and steward it for the brand. We don’t want to be a creative agency. We can help come up with the ideas and let the agencies take the credit.

What is your team focused on selling right now?

YouTube’s really blowing up. A few years ago, it was a struggle to get people on board. But now we’ve found a nice niche for Google in the middle space between online and traditional.

The ad formats [on YouTube] include overlays, promoted videos, and in-lays (pre and post-rolls). We’ve had the most success selling promoted videos, especially to longer-tail advertisers.

What creative assets are marketers using for promoted videos?

Some use assets already created for TV or other platforms but more and more marketers are creating new assets specific for YouTube because they understand it’s a new channel.

What does the future hold for Google and search in general?

It’s hard to tell where it’s going because consumer behavior changes so fast. When I went to Japan to visit my family, it really hit home. Over there, they are always connected and the cell phones are so powerful and ingrained into their lives. We’re still catching up to Japan from 5 years ago [in that regard].

I do think the search paradigm is changing. Where people search [from a geographic perspective as well as the device] is changing. But many marketers still haven’t found the best way to just do regular paid search as it exists today.

At Google, there will be advances in output. We’re always tweaking. But this stuff is tough. With product search , we still haven’t found the best way to find the lowest prices across all the available retailers.

With things like universal search and voice search and image search, you’re starting to see Google give people more ways to search.

How can marketers best prepare for the future where it’s about more than just search, it’s about “search and act?”

The pace is speeding up. [Consumers] are speeding down the funnel. Marketers need to catch them.

The key is [to figure out] how do I get my brand into the stream of consciousness. As more and more people search in new ways, they don’t stop and think, “I’m going to search now.” It’s embedded into the fabric of our days.

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