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Google Evangelizes Its Ecosystem

The search engine's B2B team finds convincing reluctant companies that online marketing works can sometimes be aided by word of mouth.

Thomas Claburn

May 17, 2007

4 Min Read

Google has a dream that one day, all the world's information will be organized, universally accessible, and useful. To realize that dream, Google needs to convince more corporate partners to see value in its vision.

At a meeting for corporate marketers at its Mountain View, Calif. headquarters on Tuesday, Google executives pitched their company as an information platform and presented speakers who had achieved significant marketing results through online media.

Google, of course, is well known as a platform for search advertising, not to mention its emergent efforts in display, print, radio, and TV advertising. But evangelism for Google goes beyond promoting the technical merits of its systems to match content with relevant ads. It has become a matter of convincing reluctant companies that online marketing works.

"We think of the Web as an ecosystem between users, content providers, and advertisers," said Susan Wojcicki Google's VP of product management.

Citing the approaching ubiquity of broadband connectivity, the democratization of information production and retrieval, and the falling cost of storage, Wojcicki said, "There are a lot of opportunities to do new things."

The main opportunity, as Google sees it, is making content freely available online, supported by ads. The more, the merrier.

Companies that have embraced the possibilities of online marketing, which it to say Google's publishing partners, have been paid about $7 billion since 2003, according to Wojcicki.

And to judge by the tales told by executives from DuPont and IBM, companies that have warmed to online marketing see real benefits.

Gary Spangler, e-business leader of electronic & communication technologies at DuPont, described how he had piloted an effort to raise awareness of his company's research through blogs using video ads. His aim was to create interest in the science behind DuPont's products.

"The blogosphere, social media, search engine marketing, e-mail marketing, we're learning how to use all those tools," Spangler said.

DuPont is organized around five major technology platforms and each one has a marketing communications manager. A corporate brand manager oversees them. Spangler went to these six people to convince them to try a new online marketing channel because young people, he said, "aren't reading traditional media anymore." Through his work with the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA), he became interested in blogs because they tend to focus on specific topics. Spangler and his group, working in an ad agency, created a series of entertaining videos about DuPont products, including Nomex, Kevlar, and SentryGlas. Pioneering video blogger Amanda Congdon, formerly with Rocketboom and now with ABCNews.com, hosts the videos, which Forrester analyst Josh Bernoff called "brandumentaries." After pre-screening them for bloggers to catch any gaffes that might generate a negative response online, the videos ran in March on eight different blogs and Web sites including Boing Boing, Digg, SEED Science Blogs, Science Blog, Kircher Society, Boompa, Left Lane News and Building Blog. The videos also subsequently appeared on YouTube.

The videos generated 6,000 visits in the first week, 100 inbound links, and lead to 45,000 video steams. Nine out of 10 people said they liked the videos and learned something new, Spangler said.

Spangler said his experiment created a lot of interest in DuPont around video, in both the company's marketing and public affairs departments. "What this project really showed to me is that marketing and public affairs and media relations, there's a strong overlap," he said.

And while the blog community is often characterized as a consumer-oriented space with tenuous ties to the corporate world, Spangler said that the videos have proven very popular with DuPont's corporate customers and with the company's business sales team.

Brand promotion for IBM is a matter of storytelling, explained Richard Toranzo, global program manager of digital media & branded entertainment. "Entertainment, storytelling, and fun...are not words we use a lot in the B2B market," said Toranzo, who described his approach as being a content creator rather than an advertiser. Over the past two years, Toranzo has overseen the creation of a series of narrative-driven short films that promote the IBM brand and the company's technology.

One such video describes how the NYPD used IBM technology to help catch a robbery suspect. Toranzo said the results have been overwhelmingly positive. In fact, IBM is so taken with the power of video as a marketing medium that the company decided to put video editing software on its intranet and ask its employees to contribute stories.

"We received over a 100K videos by the way, of different quality," Toranzo said.

After hearing about IBM successful use of video and its story-oriented ads, a marketer in the audience asked, "Where'd you get the money to do this? Did you have to beg?"

"I have an American Express Black Card," Toranzo joked, eliciting laughter from the audience. "The answer is not easy. The answer is a lot of fighting."

Google's dream is to put an end to that fighting, to be the peacemaker, and to get a piece of the advertising action.

About the Author(s)

Thomas Claburn

Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful master's degree in film production. He wrote the original treatment for 3DO's Killing Time, a short story that appeared in On Spec, and the screenplay for an independent film called The Hanged Man, which he would later direct. He's the author of a science fiction novel, Reflecting Fires, and a sadly neglected blog, Lot 49. His iPhone game, Blocfall, is available through the iTunes App Store. His wife is a talented jazz singer; he does not sing, which is for the best.

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