Gooooogle culture…

Posted on November 24, 2007 10:47 by phil

It’s BarcampLondon3 - I’m sat on a very large bean bag in the atrium at Google’s UK Headquarters. It’s all too comfortable.

Google is famous for its working environment. Tales of the early days at the googleplex abound – gourmet chefs, roller hockey, beanbags and so on. I suppose it’s become more commonplace now but back in ’99 when I first heard tell of these things, I was surprised to say the least. Especially as I counted myself lucky to get dial up at the time.

Across the atrium from where I sit on the £800 bean bag is a kitchen with all manner of food and drink for the taking. Yes, Googlers want for very little it seems.
OK, it’s not like they’re hard up or anything… $10.6bn last year – they can afford the free espresso.

There is an abundance of whiteboards (all wiped clean before we arrived, top secret stuff here, you see) and also an abundance of meeting rooms all named after great thinkers. Berners-Lee, Newton, Hawking, Magellan all get namechecks here.

The open plan offices are decorated as eccentrically as you might imagine. There are traditional red phoneboxes for private calls, mannequins dressed in Google hats and the occaisional brightly coloured arrow pointing to the “Googler of the week” who presumably sits beneath it with an inward grin of satisfaction.

On the one hand, these things could just be fluff, but in much the same way that a persons house tells you a great deal about them, a workplace says similar things. Perhaps the most powerful of these was the scribble on the kitchen whiteboard:

“Still loving you Google.. Despite you driving me crazy, Still loving you…”
 

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The Search

Posted on May 22, 2007 16:04 by phil

I know I promised to write a review of the Long Tail and all but.. I’m afraid I got distracted and several books later I’m reading “The Search”. Another corker.
It bills itself as “How Google and its rivals rewrote the rules of business and transformed our culture”

Reason enough to read it. Insights aplenty, the book has a pretty high “Ah!” factor, or at least it had me going “Ah! So that’s what happened!”.
If you’re old enough to remember the internet as it was 10 years ago, there are a few bits of nostalgia.. I got misty eyed reading back over the Altavista days. Anyone remember when the address was altavista.digital.com ? In fact anyone remember Digital Equipment Corporation?

The idea that search would dwarf a hardware giant back then was preposterous. DEC thought search was a “neat research project” that it could use to get PR for its hardware business.
10 years really is not a long time.

If you have a business plan and anything to do with your business depends on the “Value” of information, you may want to shorten a few timescales.
For good or for bad, the man behind the curtain at Google is upending a great many business models and the pace of change is *quick*.

There’s two ways you can look at it – with trepidation if you have a lot to lose, or with anticipation. Either way, remember that where there is disruption, there is also opportunity.

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There’s another interesting article on the BBC web site covering the continuing shift in focus from offline to online for those holding the media budget purse strings.
If you’ve been following this subject for any length of time ( I have for 10 years, but then I’m a big geek..) you will remember that Google beat Channel 4 for UK Advertising Revenue last year.

Channel 4 are the second biggest ad funded TV network in the UK, by the way.

This isn’t as astonishing as it sounds.

The BBC article points to the massive uptake in broadband as the principle driver for this phenomenon and in this they are partially right. Without the audience, nobody is going to advertise.
What they missed was, simply put, the sheer difference in accountability.

Lets be honest here – if I’m deploying media budget and I haven’t had my head under a rock for the last 10 years, I expect metrics – precise, key indicators. Not just audience demographics. Demographics are a given.

No, if I’m going to advertise, I need to know *exactly* how many of the audience are exposed to the message, what the ratio is for conversion to enquiries and sales, and it doesn’t stop there.
I’m quite happily accustomed to being able to drill down to single conversions in order to be able to see what keywords brought them to the sales messages, and the difference in sales based on any number of variables I might like to introduce, test, and maybe include into my campaigns.

Broadcast media simply cannot deliver this.

Press the red button now? Not even in with a chance.

Broadcast media are attempting to become interactive by adding elements like the red button or text messaging enquiries but they can never become “NarrowCast”

Right now, they are best suited to driving awareness and acting as the “push” to augment the “pull” of online, “On Demand” marketing techniques.
I’m not suggesting for an instant that offline is dead. Far from it.

Over the next few years, I’m hoping we will see offline media making more of integration with online, and playing to its strengths. There’s little reason why offline ad inventory can’t be auctioned in a similar way to online – there’s just the daily print and distribute time lag rather than instant updates but what the heck?
Why not add some value with an accountable enquiry service with a “Pay Per Enquiry” offering

And guess what?

Google are already doing it.

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