Which of the lessons I’ve outlined resonates with you the most — and why?
Act like content. I think this is the most important lesson and also one of the more difficult ones to pull off. Clients and brands have been taught to communicate in single sentences and thoughts: “I Tarzan, you Jane.” Creating a fully conversant brand through the use of content is trickier, but ultimately much more fulfilling for the end-user interacting with it.
What makes Google such a unique company? Why has it been so successful?
Google’s inception to IPO phase fascinates me. They mashed the best of shareware video-game marketing with search to rapidly grow a fanatical base. The business came after that. Then the IPO made them near untouchable and granted them the freedom to experiment. Much like they used shareware marketing lessons, they are now leveraging lessons learned from Apple and Microsoft as they morphed categories over the years.
You were part of the team that created the Doritos Crash the Super Bowl campaign — a great example of lesson #2 — Tap the Wisdom of Crowds. What was the key insight that led to that idea?
It initially was a first-mover experiment that connected the dots between the rise of UGC and the biggest show on earth. We negotiated the program infrastructure like a media buy and then put the opportunity out there. Everyone was really shocked at the amount of content that it generated and how funny a lot of it was. The experiment set the course for a continuing multiyear strategy that connects content and crowds through different promotions.
You were also part of the team that hatched the Visa Business Network on Facebook — a great example of lesson #7 — Act Like Content. What was the key insight there?
SH: The key insight was leverage. Could a media agency use a massive amount of leverage to… [secure] engineering time from a portal [and] create a small business network to take on AMEX Open? The initial partner recommendation was Google, but we ended up ultimately going with Facebook. As part of the deal, we included free Facebook network advertising for small-business owners that signed up. The program rapidly garnered an audience thanks to the value exchange.
Is Google a friend or foe to the ad agency community? Why?
Depends all on how you personally view change. Change is my friend. The changing dynamics in advertising helped propel my career. Ergo, Google is a friend. And I have a lot of friends at Google.
In 10 years, how will the marketing world be different, and what will Google’s role be in the ecosystem?
My prediction is that in ten years search dollars will account for only 15% of Google’s revenue. Their revenue will be dominated by subscription services generated off their expansion into mobile. They will be facing antitrust issues from the U.S. government as they will have stymied the Government’s attempt to have access to the wealth of place-based behavioral data that they have access to from mobile.
In under 140 characters, what’s the single most important thing you’ve learned from Google?
You can learn a lot from a failed experiment. But not experimenting will make you a total failure.