Founder and Media Economist
You’ve been writing your business reports for over 20 years. Did you see Google coming? Why/why not?
I saw a very early demonstration of Google a a TED Conference, and understood the implications for research, for journalism, and for education. The business model focused on driving consumers to commerce relationships and opportunities was not a part of the initial presentations, which featured the technology rather than the content, was not foreseen.
What makes Google such a unique company? Why has it been so successful?
Google focused first on the empowerment of technology and storage capabilities. By placing technology ahead of business models, and then allowing the marketplace to identify and develop the business models, traditional business school rules were flipped on their head. Google’s model has been repeated by several companies such as Twitter, MySpace and Facebook but the revenue opportunities have evolved much more slowly and have not scaled as dramatically.
You coined the phrase “The Relationship Age.” Can you briefly describe that concept?
In 1997 and 1998, I wrote Reconnecting with Customers: Building Brands and Profits in The Relationship Age and I trademarked The Relationship Age. It reflects the simple reality that we are shifting away from a 100 year Industrial Age and Information Age period during which society, culture, business, politics were defined by mass production, mass merchandising, mass marketing and mass media. In all aspects of our lives and business, technology is now empowering us to rebuild and renew one-to-one relationships. Marketers need to understand the implications of this major societal shift and embrace completely new communications strategies that emphasize one-to-one relationships and move away from mass marketing strategies.
What’s the role of Google in the Relationship Age to consumers? To marketers? To agencies? To media publishers/content providers?
Google is an intermediary in the communications process. Google’s recognition of The Relationship Age is apparent in its work on Google Earth, Google Voice, Google.org, and other tools and services that become integral and important to people’s lives. These are resources that relate to people and empower an emotional connection between Google and its users. The role of Google’s search tool to consumers, marketers, agencies and publishers is obvious. But Google has greater potential value as a marketing partner when it is the connective tissue between people and things they emotionally care about.
What type of person is well-suited to thrive in an agency or client-side in today’s marketing world?
We need to focus more on emotional connections. Social networks, gaming and virtual worlds are requiring that marketers and agencies communicate with messages and media that resonate with consumers’ hearts and guts, as well as their minds. Marketers and agencies need to focus on building long term relevant relationships with consumers rather than on making a short term sale. The fundamental concepts of mass marketing and advertising value are being replaced.
Which of my lessons resonates with you the most and why?
SEM is a tool of the outdated mass marketing business mentality.
In under 140 characters, what’s the single most important thing you’ve learned from Google?
New media technologies cannot rely on traditional business models.