Google's Susan Wojcicki May Be the Biggest Name in Digital Advertising | Adweek Google's Susan Wojcicki May Be the Biggest Name in Digital Advertising | Adweek
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Is This the Most Important Person in Advertising?

Hint: she runs a $43.7 billion ad business

That fits with Google’s mobile strategy and the recent change to AdWords to view mobile as a context and not necessarily a siloed channel. Why that position?
I think we’re getting to the point where I don’t even know what a mobile device is anymore. If I have a laptop and the laptop has a detachable touchscreen, is that mobile or a desktop? If I have a phone with a really large screen, is that a handheld or a tablet? If people take tablets and attach a keyboard, is that a tablet or desktop? These things have happened only in the last couple of years. If you look at how fast the user behavior is changing, we began to feel that it’s really important to understand for our advertisers the right way to reach users independent of device and look at the context around them to serve the right ad.

That context-based approach makes sense for AdWords since it’s about search, but does it work also for mobile display advertising?
I think it’s similar in the sense that advertisers want to reach users. It actually gets back to my earlier point about how buying advertising today is too hard. At the end of the day, we want to simplify this for advertisers and agencies, so they can just reach the right users. We’re giving them the right tools and metrics regardless of device and for them to give us their assets to figure out the right ads to serve to them. I think display is both direct response and performance, and we want to give them the tools to reach the right users.

How does the rise of automated buying—parallel with this push around native advertising and Google’s context-oriented approach—portend for ad units in terms of tweaking existing formats and creating new ones?
In general, we want to make it as easy as possible for advertisers. There are a lot of things that advertisers can append to their search ads, like site links or location extensions. If we have that, we want to show the right extensions for that user. That’s what we mean in terms of context. To the extent that advertisers can give us the assets that make sense for them and we can figure out dynamically the right way to serve them, that will make it easier and potentially higher performing for advertisers.

On the other hand, there are going to be different formats, like for a mobile phone there is app download and click-to-call. But again, we want to make this as easy as possible for advertisers given that they’re living in a multiscreen world.

In terms of newish ad products, you have TrueView ads for YouTube. Do you expect to make any tweaks as more and more people watch videos online and more advertisers flock to video? And what about new video ad units?
We always are making different changes to TrueView to make it better. What I think is significant about TrueView that I think is going to be significant for advertising going forward is users have a lot more choice today, and TrueView recognizes that and really changes the model. If users are choosing whether or not they want to see the ad, then advertisers are going to build campaigns that are really compelling for that format. I think we have to recognize as an industry that users have a lot more choices and can click away to a lot more media. As a result, the advertising we create really needs to be something users want to see.

That was sort of the rationale behind shifting Google Shopping to a pay-to-play model last year with Product Listing Ads. There was a lot of pushback, but a couple studies have shown PLAs performed well for e-commerce advertisers. Are you looking to do more vertical-oriented ad products?
Retail is a pretty big area. The other area that I think we’ve been early is some of our work with travel. We acquired [flight search firm] ITA [Software]. We’ve been introducing Flight Search. We have Hotel Finder. We’re still pretty early in that space, but I think that would be another place where we’re thinking about what’s the right format in context.

Retail and travel are big verticals and full of direct-response advertisers, but the shift of TV dollars online is keyed around brand advertisers who care more about impressions than clicks. Does that require more effort and attention toward impression-type campaigns?
We’ve been spending more time here on brand. I think we’re still pretty early, but some of the things we’ve done that will be important going forward will be the engagement ad format [Lightbox] that we released [last October]. It gives a canvas to advertisers to have a lot of flexibility with their creatives, but it also is similar in the sense that the user needs to engage with it in some way to be counted. The second thing we’ve been focused a lot on has been measurement. Yes, impressions are important, but how can we get advertisers more tools to understand if that impression worked and what was the effect. We’ve started with some things. We have Active GRP, and we have Active View. This is a huge area we’re going to see a lot of change in over the next couple years.

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