Google Voice Search: Agile strategy in practice

Nick Fell, Shadi-Sade Sarreshtehdarzadeh and Jason Gonsalves


At the start of 2011, 40% of people had smartphones and mobile searches were on the up. In response, Google created a search experience designed with mobile in mind. The Voice Search app allowed you to speak into your phone to search for stuff. Google asked us to pitch ideas that would increase awareness and trial of the new app.

Google works at the pace of the web and asked us to respond not in two weeks, but two days. To win the pitch we had to change the way we worked and put the concept of "agile strategy" to the test. As a consequence, we cast creative teams to produce sparks more quickly, treated briefing as instigation of a process not instruction, met every few hours not every few days and maximised the amount of work not done. The output was a great idea: Phonetics. A campaign that turned search terms into phonetic puzzles, inviting the user to pronounce the search thereby turning static media interactive. The campaign increased saliency, understanding and intent to download for the Voice Search app. Proof that we can work faster to create famous and effective ideas.