Google marketing executive: We’ve made so many mistakes it’s embarrassing

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 11.35.12 AMGoogle has urged agencies to invest more time and energy in the digital arena as the search engine giant admitted it has made “many, many mistakes” in its attempts to develop cutting edge technology.

Joshua Spanier, marketing director global media at Google, said the company has regularly “screwed up” in its quest to develop digital advertising solutions.

Speaking at the Ad:Tech conference in Sydney yesterday, Spanier revealed Google was making significant headway in its work in the programmatic space as it looked beyond “direct response and immediate conversion” to in-depth analysis of brand lift.

But it has not been plain sailing, he candidly told delegates.

“I want to be clear. We have screwed up so many times it’s embarrassing,” he said. “But that’s ok. We have a culture where we celebrate learning from our mistakes and we have made many, many mistakes. The notion that we have all the answers is wrong and erroneous.”

And while Google has “made strides” in measuring brand lift in programmatic banner advertising, it remains “way behind the curve” in other areas such as video and mobile.

“That’s the opportunity open to all of us,” Spanier said. “The opportunity for us to do amazing things with technology and digital – beyond just buying – is there for the taking. At Google we are incredibly early on in the process but we have made strides.”

Google logoThe Google marketer declined to reveal which brand signals it had identified but said there are “signals out there that can be exploited and leveraged” to help marketers.

Later in his presentation, Spanier called on agencies to scale back their discussions on traditional media and invest more time in the digital arena.

Too often, an hour and 45 minutes of a two hour meeting is spent debating which TV show to advertise on, with digital an after thought.

“You’ve just finished talking about TV, print and out of home, and now the digital ads come up and everyone is tired and cranky so no one gives it time or attention,” Spanier told the audience. “It dies by the wayside.

“What I have come to realise is that for most of your brands you know the majority of your media schedule. You know which publications, which TV, which billboards are best.

“But you end up debating which TV show you should be in and honestly, no one cares. It’s not that significantly important. It’s never going to change fundamentally.

“I don’t want to debate TV shows and all that stuff and I don’t think you or your clients should either. Let’s have time for the interesting, digital led stuff and create those custom programs which can make all the difference.”

While 80 per cent of a budget may be spent on traditional channels, “sometimes in media following the money is not the best advice”, he said.

Spanier suggested a separate meeting and dedicated teams should be pulled together to discuss digital innovation.

Google, Spanier went on, has forced its teams not to allow digital work and innovation to fall by the wayside or be “squeezed into the last two minutes of the presentation”.

He added that CMO support was critical in exploring digital ideas.

“If your CMO doesn’t really care then it’s going to be really hard, or you’ll have to do stuff below the radar,” Spanier said. “Our CMO has said she would like Google to be the world’s greatest digital marketer. We are not there right now, but she would like us to be and it’s important that has been publicly stated.”

Steve Jones


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