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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Ad Agency Deathwatch: Google Rising

Imagine you're Volvo's top US advertising executive, responsible for an ad budget of around $100 million (€78.59m; £52.72m). And you want to talk to an expert with new media savvy and empathy with a prime customer target group.

Who do you talk to? A creative boutique? An online hotshop? One of the specialist new media scions of Omnicom, WPP, Interpublic, Publicis and Havas?

None of these if you're Volvo's Linda Gangeri, who like those seeking Ralph Waldo Emerson's "better mousetrap", made "a beaten path to the door" of . . . Google.

Impressed by the Californian search titan's recent ingestion of YouTube Gangeri cold-shouldered Madison Avenue's finest in the belief that she might find the "better mousetrap" at Google.

Volvo, whose image is more usually associated with the comfortable bourgeoisie, will next year launch a new model targeting the hip, twenty-something crowd - Googlers personified.

Jetting-in from the West Coast to Google's recently opened New York offices, Gangeri told the Googlistas: "This is a target we've never reached before and one you cannot reach via traditional marketing messages - they reject it. We look to you and challenge you, with Google being more of that young, targeted mind-set."

Patrick Keane, Google's director of product marketing, was in no mood to disagree with such dollar-dripping enthusiasm. Unable to believe his luck, he took up Gangieri's refrain.

"There's probably a false assumption in the marketplace that Google is a bunch of machines in Mountain View [California] and we don't have relationships like you might see at Conde Nast up the street or at ABC television," Keane responded.

Elsewhere, however, there was less enthusiasm. Timothy Hanlon who, as svp of Publicis Groupe's Denuo new-media consulting division, bestrides the gap between old and new media, assessed the Google incursion.

"They're trying to take the DNA of search marketing and apply it to other kinds of advertising," he said, adding that the larger dollar-pot in traditional "brand-marketing budgets" is a natural target for Google.

While Jason Clement, associate director of search engine marketing at Aegis Group's Carat Fusion, was in counter attack mode: "The scariest thing about Google is they don't know what they don't know.

"There's a difference between a Harvard [graduate] mathematician and someone who's been selling ads for twenty years. The mathematician is smarter, but if you want Coca-Cola's dollars, the guy selling billboards for twenty years is the one you want."

Surveying the upcoming Battle Royal, observers of the media scene predict that few prisoners will be taken.

via WARC and Washington Post

14 comments:

Scott R. MacIver said...

To Mr. Clement:

There is a difference between experience and knowledge.

The hypothetical mathematician, recently graduated from Harvard, might know a great deal more about the audience profile than the ad executive with 20 years experience. Using statistics, the mathematician could divine that people who buy cars use the Internet and cloud over the meaningless billboards and thousands of other messages they are exposed to in day-to-day life.

People require relevance to keep it real. Online experiences reach people who want to buy cars. So, if Volvo wants to sell more cars, Google just might be able to help them accomplish that goal in a meaningful and measurable way.

Coke's dollars will follow the audience; not an individual's counsel ... regardless of the source.

The problem with advertising agency executives is they don't know what the don't know. And, in most cases, those executives are fortunate to know what they had for dinner last night.

To Mr. Hanlon:

You bet. Google is in business to make money and they, like any well-run business, will find new markets where they be productive and grow.

Please don't confuse Google the "search engine" with Google "the business." If you do, then it will be too late for you when you realize there is more to Google's communication and marketing function than search.

Good luck.

Kudos to Fallon for highlighting this strory from WARC and Washington Post.

Adrian said...

Amen on both, the quotes couldn't have made agencies sound more stuck in the past if they'd tried.

Good to know that people who are leading the so called reinvention of advertising and media are so sure of themselves.

Especially if you're Google.

Anonymous said...

well said, mr. maciver. people like jason clement mark a big reason why savvy CMOs are ditching digital agencies like Carat and flocking to Mountain View--where they are wow-ed by our "Harvard Mathematicians" who supposedly don't understand advertising.

-someone who knows

Anonymous said...

Surely *everyone* gets advertising theses days - which is why the traditional marketing models are failing and new ones are being created (almost on a weekly basis it seems). Google will probably succeed as much because they believe they can as anything else. And more power to them, I say.

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