Keep up with consumers, says Google’s UK boss

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Matt Brittin, managing director of Google UK and Ireland, emphasised the importance of keeping up with the consumer via social media and mobile connections at the 2010 IGD Convention.

Brittin highlighted the growth of Facebook (500m people are on Facebook and spend a total of 6bn minutes a day on the network), Twitter (70m-80m users, tweeting 55m tweets a day and with a peak of 1,000 tweets a second) plus YouTube (25 hours of video content uploaded every minute, showing 2m videos a day).

Brittin said there was a trend to more and faster connections as a result of an increase in the number of people on broadband and a reduction in digital storage costs.

“And there is a trend to being connected while on the move,” he said.

Brittin said the focus at Google, launched 12 years ago, was to keep it simple for the consumer.

“Focus on the user and all else will follow,” he said. “That’s why the search page is white with one box.

“Finding something on the internet is easier than finding a sock in your sock draw,” he claimed.

Brittin said Google searches have been enhanced with images, videos and maps; delivering the richness of the web and the information was more up to date.

The search engine reveals the number of results in each search and how quickly it provided them.

Brittin revealed Google was a more loosley structured organisation and employees divided their time 70% on core products and services, 20% on adjacent items and 10% on highly experimental projects.

Great products, such as Google News and gmail, come out of 20% of time, he said.

The company also had a philosophy of ‘eat your own dogfood’, whereby employees are encouraged to use all of Google’s products.

Another Google ethos is ‘you can be serious without a suit’ and Brittin said the company encouraged small teams. “For us, fast is better than slow. We focus on launching early and often,” he said.

He went on to highlight the impact of the growth of the internet and social media to delegates.

“Everyone is a broadcaster and now everybody with a mobile phone can express an opinion about you,” he said, revealing one in eight views on iPlayer come from games consoles.

There are 1 trillion urls in the Google index and 25% of the population are online plus half of all new internet connections are mobile.

In 2013 sales of smart phones will overtake PCs and 67% of the world’s population has a mobile, said Brittin.

Brittin said the industry was in a new era with regard to marketing and companies were trying to transpose traditional advertising on new media. They need to be more interactive, he said.

“Try to keep up with the consumer, think about what you are doing and how big is the gap,” he said.

Brittin advised delegates use Google’s Insights for search, which looks at trends in search terms such as seasonality and provides real time results.

He encouraged the audience to treat a page of search results as a ‘digital shelf’ featuring high street names, manufacturers and services.

Brittin reminded delegates customers are making decisions before they enter the store and said the number of people making fmcg decisions in store has fallen from 40% in 2007 to 17% in 2009.

Brittin presented search results for key categories for suppliers at the Convention.

“People are actually interested in the stuff you sell,” he said.

And he highlighted the potential of multi-channel and multi-media operations – shoppers who buy in store and online can be worth four times as much as those who just buy in store.

“Leap and learn,” he advised.