Marissa Mayer On Recent Google Innovations and Newspapers

In the most-awaited session of the afternoon of Day 1 at LeWeb, Michael Arrington (from TechCrunch) sat down with Marissa Mayer, Vice President, Search Products and User Experience at Google to discuss a series of hot topics like recent Google innovations, mobile and the newspaper industry.

Marissa Mayer Google Michael Arrington Techcrunch LeWeb Paris December 2009 - 1

On recent innovations:

  • Mayer says Google is focused on future of search and they expect different modality of search, not just through keywords. That’s why they launched Google Goggles this week which is basically image recognition (you take a picture and Google tells you what it is). See this example. They also expanded voice search to Japanese and added the “What’s nearby” mobile functionality. Mayer thinks that people will eventually talk to their phone or take a picture to make a search. They also added real-time results (from Twitter, blogs, Facebook, MySpace, etc.) to regular search results, which drastically increases the relevancy of Google search results.
  • On Google Chrome, she mentioned the release of Chrome Extensions which allows anyone to add functionalities via plugins in the Chrome browser (like Firefox). She said there are “tens of millions of Chrome users”.
  • On Google Wave, Arrington stated “there’s something there” but wondered if we needed more “training”. I think most people are unsure of the value of Wave today and that’s why the Techcrunch founder asked the question.

On mobile searches:

  • Mayer says they’ve grown tremendously on smart phones. Asked by Arrington if their total share of mobile searches over total searches was in the 1 to 5% range, she answered “slightly higher than that”.

Marissa Mayer Google Michael Arrington Techcrunch LeWeb Paris December 2009 - 2

On newspapers:

  • Arrington started by saying we all understand the dire situation of print media and mentioned Eric Schmidt recent vision piece in the Wall Street Journal. He then asked Mayer: “What’s your vision?”. The VP from Google answered with a question: “how do you get users more engaged with news online?” She continued by stating that if we could build a news site from scratch today, it would probably look very different than what we have today. She then mentioned The Living Stories experiment they’re doing with the New York Times and the Washington Post. “What if the story was alive? Not just the print version posted online.” She added that the Web “puts pressure on the atomic unit of consumption. The article is the atomic unit.” She then suggested we could aggregate all news story on the same topic on one page, like Wikipedia, to help with discovery in Google.
  • She closed that topic by suggesting “personalized stream of news”, probably on your mobile phone, would be interesting. The stream would be filtered according to your social circle, location, the news brands you like, the writers you like, and the important news you should know about (she called them “veggies”).
  • Asked if newspapers will move fast enough, she thought so and mentioned the New York Times and Washington Post are very progressive partners and very interested on how they can reinvent themselves.
  • On Murdoch, Mayer mentioned the partnership with MySpace. Asked if she thought News Corp would pull their content from Google, she answered “I hope not” as it would impact comprehensiveness of their results set. She added “we have to respect the content owners. We would respect his will.”
  • Finally, Arrington asked if Google would consider paying for content, Marissa Mayer proposed that they already have programs for content monetization through Google Adsense and their display ads network.

See more on Techcrunch.

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Conversational Marketing & Economics

John Batelle has posted part three of a four-part post on conversational media over on Searchblog that caught my eye. I linked to the first part here a while ago, where I, uh, proclaimed it was all “about economics (ad revenue) vs. relevance (interactivity/user content).”. Still applies. But back to part three, it’s a very long post that at first explains the origins of Federated Media, and how scale, quality and safety are the three pillars of this new enterprise that groups quality blogs/ conversations and intermediates them with advertisers. He goes on to show how Wired magazine clued into the fact that advertisers want to join in and be part of the conversation with their readers, and how later Adsense made strides harnessing many advertiser messages and relevancy using their algorithms. Sidenote, the BoingBoing blog asks its readers if ads are ok. Coincidentally, I did the same thing two years ago for MoCo Loco in a post called… “Relevance vs. Economics” and got the same answer from readers (yes, if the ads are relevant). And then examples of advertisers that actively participated in conversations with their ad concepts and succeeded. All superlative examples of relevancy. There’s a lot to chew on, but in essence Batelle sums it up nicely by saying “when an [blog] author approves a company to advertise on his or her site, they are, in essence, inviting the company to join that sites’ conversation.”… ie., and stay if you have something relevant to say.

What it means: What isn’t explicit in the Searchblog post is that this can all work because quality blogs have brands of their own, they are acutely aware of the relevancy:economics equation. There are now 65 million blogs out there, blogs are literally you and me, the brand is us. Innately, we all know that relevancy is the only real currency in the conversational economy. It’s a delicate balance blogger and advertiser, ignore it at your peril.

Full disclosure: MoCo Loco, thus the author of this post, is a member of the Federated Media Graphic Arts Federation.

Conversational Marketing & Economics

John Batelle has posted part three of a four-part post on conversational media over on Searchblog that caught my eye. I linked to the first part here a while ago, where I, uh, proclaimed it was all “about economics (ad revenue) vs. relevance (interactivity/user content).”. Still applies. But back to part three, it’s a very long post that at first explains the origins of Federated Media, and how scale, quality and safety are the three pillars of this new enterprise that groups quality blogs/ conversations and intermediates them with advertisers. He goes on to show how Wired magazine clued into the fact that advertisers want to join in and be part of the conversation with their readers, and how later Adsense made strides harnessing many advertiser messages and relevancy using their algorithms. Sidenote, the BoingBoing blog asks its readers if ads are ok. Coincidentally, I did the same thing two years ago for MoCo Loco in a post called… “Relevance vs. Economics” and got the same answer from readers (yes, if the ads are relevant). And then examples of advertisers that actively participated in conversations with their ad concepts and succeeded. All superlative examples of relevancy. There’s a lot to chew on, but in essence Batelle sums it up nicely by saying “when an [blog] author approves a company to advertise on his or her site, they are, in essence, inviting the company to join that sites’ conversation.”… ie., and stay if you have something relevant to say.

What it means: What isn’t explicit in the Searchblog post is that this can all work because quality blogs have brands of their own, they are acutely aware of the relevancy:economics equation. There are now 65 million blogs out there, blogs are literally you and me, the brand is us. Innately, we all know that relevancy is the only real currency in the conversational economy. It’s a delicate balance blogger and advertiser, ignore it at your peril.

Full disclosure: MoCo Loco, thus the author of this post, is a member of the Federated Media Graphic Arts Federation.

Google Earth & Microsoft Virtual Earth: Some Advertising Examples

Read in this month’s Business 2.0:

“This spring Saturn is looking to roll out a nationwide version of an online ad for its new Aura sedan built on Google Earth technology. Web users don’t have to download the mapping software; they just watch as the screen zooms all the way down from space into the nearest Saturn dealership – located by their IP address – where a salesman offers them a test-drive. A beta version of the ad, targeted at just six U.S. cities, received millions of click-throughs, according to Gokul Rajaram, product management director for Google AdSense. (You can view this 3-d ad here.)”

“It also resulted in more than 1,000 requests for a test-drive – which prompted Saturn’s ad agency, Goodby Silverstein & Partners, to start inventing campaigns for its other clients using Google Earth. “Every retail chain will eventually do this,” says Jeff Goodby, co-founder of the San Francisco-based agency.”

“Microsoft has already rolled out ads inside Virtual Earth 3D for major sponsors like Fox and Nissan. Users will soon be able to zoom through virtual versions of real cities with billboards advertising local hotels, restaurants, or day trips.”

What it means: this is really cool but it’s still a very static execution, i.e. more like a TV ad online. The real difference is the IP targetting. I’m sure they’ve done the ads that way to avoid the download problem (you need to install a software in order to use both MSN & Google’s services). But in this case, you can’t really use the service at its fullest (driving directions, etc.). The real 3D mapping killer-app (for advertising) will happen when you don’t have to download anything to navigate in these virtual worlds.

Google Earth & Microsoft Virtual Earth: Some Advertising Examples

Read in this month’s Business 2.0:

“This spring Saturn is looking to roll out a nationwide version of an online ad for its new Aura sedan built on Google Earth technology. Web users don’t have to download the mapping software; they just watch as the screen zooms all the way down from space into the nearest Saturn dealership – located by their IP address – where a salesman offers them a test-drive. A beta version of the ad, targeted at just six U.S. cities, received millions of click-throughs, according to Gokul Rajaram, product management director for Google AdSense. (You can view this 3-d ad here.)”

“It also resulted in more than 1,000 requests for a test-drive – which prompted Saturn’s ad agency, Goodby Silverstein & Partners, to start inventing campaigns for its other clients using Google Earth. “Every retail chain will eventually do this,” says Jeff Goodby, co-founder of the San Francisco-based agency.”

“Microsoft has already rolled out ads inside Virtual Earth 3D for major sponsors like Fox and Nissan. Users will soon be able to zoom through virtual versions of real cities with billboards advertising local hotels, restaurants, or day trips.”

What it means: this is really cool but it’s still a very static execution, i.e. more like a TV ad online. The real difference is the IP targetting. I’m sure they’ve done the ads that way to avoid the download problem (you need to install a software in order to use both MSN & Google’s services). But in this case, you can’t really use the service at its fullest (driving directions, etc.). The real 3D mapping killer-app (for advertising) will happen when you don’t have to download anything to navigate in these virtual worlds.