Google tries to attract agencies

15 July 2009

MOUNTAIN VIEW, California: Google, the online search giant, is taking an increasingly proactive approach to building stronger relationships with advertising agencies, as it seeks to promote its range of tools aimed specifically at marketers.

A recent forecast from Magna estimated that online adspend in the US will decline by 2.2% this year, to $23.0 billion (€16.5bn; £14.1bn), although the Interpublic Group agency predicted search will see an uptick of 3.6% on an annual basis.

Efficient Frontier has also reported that search revenues fell by 21% in the second quarter of 2009, and were also down by 3% compared with Q1.

However, the company's research found that Google took a 75% share of all category expenditure in Q2, although this figure was down slightly from 75.6% over the previous three months.

While Google has been praised for its unique business model, Sir Martin Sorrell, head of WPP Group, has previously argued it is a "frenemy" to the advertising industry, although his position in this area now appears to have softened somewhat.

In June, the company launched Agencyland, a portal designed to demonstrate, among other things, how YouTube can work in tandem with TV ads, and how Google Maps can be used in communications campaigns.

AdWords, the search advertising system, is probably its best-known offering, but Google is also attempting to promote its stable of 18 other tools targeted particularly at agencies.

These include Google Analytics, which promises "rich insights into your website traffic and marketing effectiveness", and Ad Planner, offering demographic data, website statistics and the ability to construct online media plans.

It is also sending representatives to visit agencies around the world, and running "lunch and learn" workshops in various locations across the US as it seeks to encourage advertising professionals to make greater use of these resources.

Spencer Spinnell, Google's director of agency strategy and development, argued that "at this stage, we are spending a lot of time educating, showing the possibilities."

Brian Schmidt, head of Google's Boston office and manager of the company's National Agency Team, added that the "idea is that the more you understand how online advertising really works, the more you'll appreciate Google's value."

More specifically, the company wants to demonstrate that "we're more than search," and make ad agencies "aware of our banner campaigns and video," he said.

Troy Kelley, Arnold Worldwide's chief digital officer, argued that while Google is "not the whole picture," it does constitute "a big piece. We can add the emotional element. That's what we're good at."

"When people are looking for something online, we want to already be there. If Google can help us with that, then they've got my attention," he added.

Data sourced from Boston Globe; additional content by WARC staff