Googleplex

Long lists are daunting, so I kept it to two.  But these are two big ones.

I had the pleasure of being invited to Google headquarters in Mountain View for a 1-day series of meetings led by some of their senior staffers last month.  As you would expect, Google was a gracious host and did a wonderful job of both informing and entertaining us.

Before I give true/false on some of the campus rumors, I’d like to cover the business side of the visit.  The trip was covered under an NDA, but I don’t believe I’m revealing anything Google doesn’t want anyone to know.  The downside is I can’t show the actual slides they presented.

So here are the two biggest things I learned during my visit:

1)   Google is all about mobile:  “Mobile first” is the motto.  Could be a mix of FB envy and hard data, but most of their energy is directed at mobile now.  Here are some facts that were hard to ignore:

  • 1.5-million Android devices are activated daily
  • At some point late in 2013, mobile and tablet install base will be larger than desktop and notebook.  By end-2015 mobile/tablet with be 2x desktop/notebook.  That’s how fast its growing!!!  They even threw in the St Peter’s picture from 2005 vs. 2013 to how much has changed (the phone on left appears to be a flip phone – gasp!).
  • Global mobile Internet traffic will surpass global desktop traffic in early 2014.
  • 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, thanks to mobile phones.

The impact of all of this?  The consumer path to purchase is forever changed.   28% of mobile searches lead to a call or store visit – over half within an hour of the search.

Relevancy and timeliness are critical.  Having a rich mobile experience will be important.  A simple easy to use UI and experience is the only way to succeed on such a small screen.  Is your company fast and agile enough to take advantage of this huge change in customer behavior?

2)   They are taking zero-moment-of-truth (ZMOT) to the next level with attribution:  Google coined ZMOT several years ago and its something we all know innately, but just in case you don’t, here is ZMOT explained.  Online reviews, social feeds and other 3rd party sites are creating influence before the customer decides on a product.  Today, the ZMOT is even more complex as it takes into account banner ads, reviews, PPC searches, organic searches, and YouTube views that influence the consumer buying decision.

With the ability of Android, Doubleclick and AdWords, Google now has a unique view into the consumer psyche.  They can tell what a consumer searched for, how many ads they saw, clicked or not clicked and if they have interacted with the brand on a mobile device.  Sounds simple but the breadth of Google’s ability to gather information and retarget potential customers is, well….staggering.  If this sounds like a plug for Google, they can have it.  It was very impressive.  37-billion impressions per day impressive.

The impact of all this?  What kind of footprint does your product and/or brand have online?  Are your Google programs connected?  When potential customers reach their ZMOT, what will they find?  Is there a video review?  Are the reviews on Amazon positive?  Will they find the brand on FB or Twitter?  The channels in the digital space are slowly blurring together.  A brand can no longer be great in just one or two.

So those are the two big lessons I took away from my day at Google.  Well worth the long trip to see the data up close and hear directly from them.

Some of the other stories about the Googleplex and if they are T/F:

  • Food is everywhere and its free
    • TRUE – Every desk is within 200 feet (I think it was 200 feet) of a cafeteria or café that serves fantastic locally produced food, free.
  • There is a pool
    • FALSE – They have two endless pools that allow someone to swim in place.  There is a volleyball court, however.
  • You can have a meeting on a bike
    • TRUE – They are 6 person bikes where employees sit in a circle, peddle and can hold a meeting.
  • You can do laundry at work
    • TRUE – there is a laundry mat, self serve but they supply detergent
  • Employees wear Google Glass
    • FALSE – only a select few were given glass to try.  I was allowed to try a pair on and will post soon about that experience.
  • Everyone sits in a cube
    • FALSE – there are no private offices, however.  Most workspace is communal.  Google believes this helps teamwork.  I heard from some that work from home is frowned upon but it depends on the team you are on.

Great trip.  Great company.  Thanks for having me, Google.  Special thanks to The Search Agency for inviting me along.

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