“The Most Important Person in Advertising,” Susan Wojcicki, Delivers Keynote At Ad:Tech SF

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Google's SVP of advertising shared five key insights into the future of advertising this week. By Lauren Jisoo Kim (Events Coordinator, Women 2.0)

Earlier this year, Adweek ran this piece on Susan Wojcicki, SVP of Advertising at Google, asking: “Is This the Most Important Person in Advertising? Hint: she runs a $43.7 billion ad business.” Judging by the way she diverted journalist Tim Peterson’s line of questioning on being “the most powerful woman at Google” and who her mentors were (her answer: “Actually, one thing I should mention, just back to me as an executive at Google. I’ve managed Adsense since the beginning…”), this woman means all business, so I’ll refrain from waxing poetic on her many merits as a role model to professional women.

Delivering her keynote yesterday morning to a packed house at Ad:Tech SF 2013, Wojcicki spoke about the “Future of Advertising.” Coming from her, the subject matter was more like the “Future of Advertising, According To Google” as this Forbes article points out. Of course, if you’re search giant Google and you account for 41.3% of total US digital ad revenues in 2013 (EMarketer), it’s in your best interest to frame the “Future of Advertising” as a digital future.

Following suit, Wojcicki opened her talk: “advertising is the lifeblood of the internet.” She went on to use a photo of a surfer in a big wave as a metaphor, saying “[Advertising is a] huge industry undergoing tremendous change. It can either go really well, or you can get caught in the wave.” The implication was clear – go digital or get caught in the pipeline.

Semantics aside, Wojcicki shared five key insights into the future at advertising, at the same time shedding light onto Google’s own plans for its revenue-driving advertising segment.

 

Choice

Ads views will be voluntary. Here, Wojcicki talked about wanting to move to an advertising model where the user is choosing to see the ads. Today, the prime example of this is Google’s search ad model, paid for on a cost-per-click basis where the advertiser only pays if a user wants to see the and actually clicks on it. Under this type of model, we can expect more content-driven advertisements that viewers actually want to see like this Pepsi ad framed as a prank on a car salesman by Jeff Gordon.

Control

Users will participate if we provide enough value and control. This point drove home the importance of giving users control in determining the type of ads they watch. Again, the example was Google’s ads preference page where the user can list their ads preferences.

Charm

Ads will be more interactive and beautiful – at scale. Here the emphasis is on ‘scale.’ Ads can be beautiful in a digital era, but these ads are often the ones running on a homepage, not the ads that are pervasive across the internet. One example of this is engagement ads, which run on a standard format, but one can mouse over the content and have a huge amount of flexibility. Susan provided an example of charm well done by showing off Samsung’s Galaxy IV advertisements where users could hover over an ad for 2 minutes and access a live stream of the launch event.

Connected

Ads will help people live their lives on the go. Users don’t just have one device anymore, they’re accessing content on multiple devices, and it’s getting harder and harder to differentiate between them. Google’s new Enhance campaigns enable advertisers to understand context (time and location, for example), and reach users in the context that they want. Especially with so much development going on in mobile, there’s no technical reason that users shouldn’t have time and location-specific advertising experiences.

Calibration

All ads will be measured. Clicks will only be one measurement type.

Wojcicki iterated the new ways that reach and impact can be measured going forward. Two Google examples: 1) a new Google product where surveys are distributed to a group of users that has seen an ad and another that hasn’t to measure impact and 2) recent Google Analytics redesign to account for users accessing data across different screens.

Women 2.0 readers: Does you agree with Wijcicki's vision of the future of advertising?

Lauren Jisoo Kim is an events coordinator at Women 2.0. She holds a BA in Development Studies with concentrations in East Asia and Anthropology from UC Berkeley. She is passionate about social entrepreneurship and women's issues. In her spare time, she attends hackathons. Follow her on Twitter at @LaurenJisoo.