Google UK, Ireland and Benelux marketing director

Google UK

Google UK, Ireland and Benelux marketing director Dan Cobley says to “The Marketer Online”, the downturn will see the survival of the fastest to adapt their customer offering

Will adaptation help Google stay ahead?

We’ve always had a philosophy that the best kind of market research is real usage by real users. We often launch as beta before products are fully ready, because the way consumers use things tells us what needs to be improved. We have an internal programme called Dog Food that tests everything with 20,000 Googlers first.

Can consumers keep up?

For big new releases we might do a small promotion on the homepage of the Google search engine itself. That gets in front of more than 20 million people a day in the UK. The other thing we rely on is the viral effect of word of mouth, because we’ve got happy and loyal users who love to discover the new things from Google first and pass them on to their friends.

What does Google stand for?

Google is still very much focused on doing what’s valuable to consumers but we’ve always had a dual focus of consumers and advertisers. If you do the right thing for the consumer then the advertising success follows.

We stand for organising the world’s information and making it universally useful and accessible. Sometimes the route that takes is surprising – when we first acquired the company that became Google Earth there were lots of comments about whether Google had lost its way, but now everyone realises that organising the world’s information in a geographical context is actually incredibly useful.

Are Street View and behavioural advertising an invasion of privacy?

Street View doesn’t publish anything online that you can’t see by walking down a public street.

We consulted widely with privacy groups and consumers and advertisers before launching a behaviour based targeting trial and we built a very clear consumer dashboard where users can opt out if they choose. Most users want to see advertising that is relevant to them and behaviour based targeting makes that easier.

Is paid search out of favour?

A number of the bigger companies are just cutting budget across all areas of marketing right now. We’re also seeing consumers buying less, even though they’re spending more time researching online. So there is less value for the advertisers, particularly for bigger companies. But that’s being offset by more shopping and retail as a whole going online.
We’re also seeing a record number of small businesses starting to use online advertising for the first time.

What will most help marketers in the downturn?

Web analytics. You’d think a company like Google would be good at that intuitively, but when we applied analytical conversion optimisation tools to our own web pages – sign up for Gmail for example – we saw 30 to 60 per cent improvements.

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