Fast Chat: Google Gets a Magazine

Head of global ad marketing Lisa Gevelber on its B2B play

Why is Google making a magazine?

Think Quarterly really came to be out of the insight that, at Google, we use research and analysis from inside Google and outside to inform our own decision-making and products. And we realized that a lot of our partners wanted access to the same kinds of insights and conversations that inform our decisions and strategies. So we wanted a way to bring that to life. We created it for mobile first, as a simple and elegant experience on a mobile device. Then it moved from mobile to the Web.

Think Quarterly exists online as an e-zine for everyone and as a printed publication for a super select group. But we hear it’s not just made of paper and ink but includes some special tactile features. Can you describe them?

As a surprise and delight, we decided to create a limited edition print version that would just go to a small number of clients and partners as a way to capture their imagination. We really believed that if we are going to make something, we always want to make it in a special Google way. For example, the cover says, “Innovation is . . .” and is built to be magnetic and includes a whole magnetic poetry kit. Each person can customize their own belief in what innovation is and make the book their own. We also personalized it—every person’s copy has their name on it. There’s [also] a page that responds to the warmth of your body—kind of like a mood ring.

How many lucky people get that special print edition?

We don’t really break that out—it’s a quite limited edition.

Some would say that Think Quarterly is just a big, fancy ad. How would you respond?

You know, when we wrote the content for Think Quarterly, we wanted to provide perspectives from some of the best minds at Google, some of our homegrown visionaries if you will. But when we make our decisions, we don’t just use the thoughts and insights of Google, we tap into innovators and experts from around the whole industry. We tried to make [Think Quarterly] a mix of the minds inside Google as well as heads of industry. I think we’ve done a good job of that.

Can you describe the team working on Think Quarterly? Are these engineers trying something new? Or others familiar with the editorial process?

[Think Quarterly] came from within Google, but we did leverage some outside artists. We also leverage some reporters to do some of the interviews. It was another way to bring the authenticity and tap into the world’s creativity. Not just to make it from Google, but to bring in these broader perspectives.

Who is your audience?

We started it with a particular group of people in mind, and I think what we’re realizing is that there are an awful lot of people in organizations trying to navigate this world gone digital. We’re getting super positive reactions not just from the core clients but also other people reading the website. These ideas resonate with anyone who is trying to navigate this digital world.

The focus of this issue was innovation. Can you give us a preview of what we might see in future issues?

Wish I could. We have an idea of what we want to do for the next one, but in classic Google fashion, we will be listening closely to feedback from users and incorporating it into future versions.