Why do you think Google’s been so successful?
It’s maintained such an incredible focus and keeps executing.
What have you learned from Google?
Be good at measuring one thing. Everything must tie back to that one thing. And it must tie to the financial statement.
Everything Google does is meant to increase ad revenue. The more it knows about its users, the more effective it can be at delivering the right message at the right time to the right person.
Android and all the other Google initiatives are all about knowing the users better to a) give them a better experience and b) serve better ads to them.
Google wants to know everything about every person. This is not malicious. There’s potential for it to go wrong but Google’s intent is pure.
Advertising as a model has been broken for a long time. Google’s trying to fix it.
What do you think the future of search holds?
It’s not a box and some keywords you type in. I’ll have my phone and other devices like TV, fridge, computer all tied to search engines. Everything will be interconnected.
Search engines will feed stuff to me without my asking for it because it knows me so well. When my fridge notices I’m low on milk, it will ping my cell when I’m near a grocery store and tell me, “Don’t forget to pick up milk.”
What’s Google’s role in this ecosystem?
Google loves the data. It will feed it all.
How will Google make money?
Advertising. Whole Foods will buy an ad next to the “low on milk” alert.
Isn’t it unfair for Whole Foods to have to pay for that? What about all the money it’s spent building customer loyalty and then it has to pay Google for catching the person right outside the store, even if they were on their way in. Although, I suppose it’s not much different from how Google makes you buy ads on brand terms even though someone searching your brand is pretty-much ready to buy.
It’s about nudging attention because attention gets distracted so easily. Google controls the poke (the last touch) [so it’s only fair that they get paid for it].
You wrote a book titled, Always Be Testing. Why is the concept of testing so important?
In the marketing world, you either test or die. The only constant in business is change. And, in the last decade, the speed of change has increased exponentially. If you can’t keep up, I feel sorry for you.
The day Michael Jackson dies, Amazon revamped its entire MP3 section within 2 hours. Most organizations would need weeks to change a page.
The Huffington Post tests which headlines get attention and change them on the fly. This builds more readership and, in turn, more ad revenue.
You have to get in the habit of executing quickly. You have to learn how to fail fast.
Google is like any other organization. Some groups there didn’t adopt testing at first. YouTube was last to come around.
Why is it so hard to get people to see the benefits of testing?
It’s not a natural inclination to say, “I don’t know for sure if the decision we just made was right, so let’s test it.” It’s hard to admit you may be wrong.
A good friend of mine drew a cartoon for my book of a man with a flame coming out of his mouth. I asked him what it was all about and he explained that testing is like eating spicy food. The first time you try it, it hurts your mouth a bit. Then, after a few more bites, it’s pretty good. And eventually, you build a threshold for more and more spice in your life. It becomes addictive. You start enjoying the process of getting results and finding insights.
It all starts with an initial leap of faith. You need more person willing to carry the torch of testing and evangelize.
One organization we worked with took a good two years to rally everyone around testing but it happened.