Google may be one of the most revolutionary forces to hit advertising in recent memory, but it's far from the sexiest, at least so far as Madison Avenue is concerned.
The search giant hopes to change that with a sprawling new Manhattan outpost, opened yesterday, which executives say will help the company court ad agencies and media partners here. (See ClickZ's photos here.)
In addition to housing a legion of engineers, product managers and UI testers, the Chelsea facility provides a base of operations for "several hundred" Google ad sales staffers and some of the 100-plus New York advertiser training sessions the company conducts each year. The total official headcount is "over 500," and it's nowhere near filled to capacity.
"We struggled with our old space to...house the trainings," according to Penry Price, Google's Eastern sales director and the right-coast, right-hand-man of Ad Sales VP Tim Armstrong. "We like having people here," he said, to let marketers breathe in the company's Silicon Valley-perfumed culture.
For those agency executives who do make the trip, the compound certainly ought to make an impression. 111 8th Ave is Manhattan's second-largest edifice in terms of square footage, has freight elevators large enough to lift delivery trucks, and is one of the most secure buildings in the city, Armstrong noted during a tour of the new digs yesterday morning. It's not far from DoubleClick's legendary old offices in Chelsea. And like those offices, Google's New York headquarters has a gymnasium-sized game room and an allowance for canine companions (up to three per floor). Additional boom-era accoutrements include free on-site meals, scooters for cross-departmental journeys, and colorful exercise balls.
The new office provides a quantum leap, both in terms of space and sophistication, over Google's just-vacated quarters near Times Square.
In a joint press conference before the tour, Armstrong and New York Engineering Director Craig Nevill-Manning rattled off a laundry list of core products and development projects borne from the company's New York operations. They include Google Local, Google Finance, Google Blog Search, and "a big part of the team that develops mobile software and search." Portions of the company's nascent print and radio advertising efforts are also in development here.
Nevill-Manning added having a presence in New York is key to the company's East Coast recruiting efforts, as many developers who live or attend college in the tri-state area simply won't relocate to California.
He also said Google hopes inter-office mingling of advertising types with engineers could lead to interesting new products and revenue opportunities. Water cooler monetization, if you will. "It's a little bit unpredictable," he admitted, but in a most Google-like sentiment insisted serendipity can produce results.
Armstrong was a little more blunt. "Our main wish is that we're able to leverage Madison Avenue combined with Silicon Valley to create the largest advertising platform in the world," he said.
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Until March 2012, Zach Rodgers was managing editor of ClickZ's award-winning coverage of news and trends in digital marketing. He reported on the rise of web companies, data markets, ad technologies, and government Internet policy, among other subjects.
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