Search engine giant Google is sending a message to advertisers: It wants to be more responsive to their needs. In a keynote address at the Search Engine Strategies Expo in San Jose, and at a rare media briefing that followed, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said Google wants to “find ways we can give information to advertisers that is truthful” and more complete. Schmidt said Google wants to be more forthcoming with click rate data in its auction-based advertising, as well as give advertisers more detailed information about the data generated by consumers who use its site.
Schmidt was led through a question and answer session by Search Engine Watch editor-in-chief Danny Sullivan, on a stage before about 1,000 conference attendees. The talk was also podcasted live and blogged by many in attendance. Sullivan is a ClickZ columnist and the Search Engine Strategies Expo is sponsored, in part, by ClickZ’s parent company, Incisive Media.
Along with giving advertisers a more detailed look at the analytics of web clicks, Google is working to make more content platforms available to advertisers. “TV, radio and print are not going away,” said Schmidt, “but the majority of new investment is going online” and Google will help advertisers capitalize on that trend. New content is going to be available to advertisers, such as Google’s announcement Monday about its video distribution deal with Viacom’s MTV Networks.
Schmidt noted Google is already building and testing its auction system to market ads for print, radio and television content. “Advertisers are concerned,” he said, “that when I do an ad, where does it go?”
“Adding video ads with video content on the Web is an under-monetized opportunity to reach an audience you’re not reaching today,” said Schmidt. Google is also working with magazines and newspapers to offer integrated ad products in those mediums.
Google is also betting big on radio. “We think radio is going to be a very, very, big advertising business,” Schmidt told the receptive crowd. Radio, he went on to say, is an especially attractive medium, because it’s very easy to distribute ads to a specific target.
Another pressing concern for advertisers was the issue of counting clicks with new technologies, such as AJAX. Schmidt acknowledged it was an issue worthy of further consideration.
Schmidt also discussed several high profile issues about Google that have been in the news recently. He made a case of detailing how secure user’s identities are on Google, especially in light of the recent AOL gaffe in which the portal released the search queries of more than half a million users. Following the incident, New York Times reporters were able to use the supposedly anonymous data to discover the identity of a 62-year-old widow who lives in Lilburn, Ga. While declining to speak directly about the case, Schmidt assured the audience, and later reporters, that such an event could never occur with Google's own users, despite the fact that AOL Search uses technology syndicated from Google. He said software security, and the use of a number of Google employees –- real, live human beings -- keep the search data secure.
Additionally, Schmidt several times declined to comment on a question. He said in one instance he makes it a point “not to know about certain parts of the business,” just so he won’t say something that’s incorrect, and have it come back and bite him. He said “we find ourselves in litigation” all the time over issues that could be resolved with simple policy changes. And many times, those changes are made when brought to management’s attention.
Schmidt also told of how proud he was that Google has created “a different way of living your life.” He said thanks to Google, people can find answers to questions posed by friends, family, the media and governments, and see for themselves where the truth lies. “We live in a world where people make all sorts of claims, and I wonder if they’re all true.”
And then he gave the crowd a little peek into his own search behavior, saying he uses Google himself, “at least 50 or 100 times a day.”
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