Byravee Iyer
Dec 1, 2016

Brands need to move at the pace of consumers: Karim Temsamani

Google's APAC head discusses the ways Asian companies need to step up, plus his views on viewability, measurement, fake news and 2017.

Karim Temsamani
Karim Temsamani

Karim Temsamani, Google’s president for Asia-Pacific, says the center of the world is moving to Asia, but companies in the region aren't giving consumers here the internet-based, mobile-first service they deserve. This has serious implications for marketers, and Temsamani's challenge is to push products and services that are relevant to these challenges. In an interview with Campaign Asia-Pacific, the Google executive explained what the search giant is doing.

What are you betting on at the moment? Why?

We’re seeing tremendous interest for video products and incredible an amount of consumption on video devices.

We think it’s critical to provide internet access. In India, we are working with the railway services to build WiFi access. So far we’ve launched in 73 stations and hope to reach 100 by the end of the year and 300 by next year.

As a result, we’re seeing 4.7 million people access it every month. 15,000 new people every day have access to the internet thanks to the network and they’re consuming 10 times the data they would consume on a whole-day 3G plan. We’re seeing an incredible spike in YouTube consumption. In the US, for instance, people typically consume content for two minutes or less, but in Asia, it is close to 10 minutes.

The other really interesting shift is programmatic. Marketers and agencies are showing more interest, and 2017 will be the year it really progresses.

You’ve said before that Asia isn’t digitizing fast enough. Is that still true?

It’s still true. That statement is a way to challenge companies to realize their potential. I believe the center of the world is shifting to Asia, so by understanding the consumers in the region we have the ability to provide better services. These services will be more relevant to global consumers. It’s very important that businesses start moving at the pace of consumers. I tell marketers all the time that their role is to take learnings from the region and export it to the rest of the world. What people are doing on devices here is more advanced.

There are currently too many hoops for users to go through. We’re doing a lot of work to enable businesses to do better. Accelerated Mobile Pages and Progressive Web Apps are two examples of how we’re making sure pages load super-fast on mobile devices.

What’s your position on current viewability standards?

We think it’s very important to measure viewability, and it’s something we continue supporting. We are starting to integrate third-party measurement across YouTube and will continue to work with the industry on viewability.

What’s your position on the recent situation with Facebook and its calculation errors?

Mistakes can be made. It’s more important that we realise and understand the right framework to measure how people are interacting with devices.

WPP has said it will spend $5 billion with Google this year. How is that relationship?

It’s a tremendously important relationship. We partner actively with Sir Martin Sorrell globally and regionally. They are an important part of the ecosystem, as we do with other agency groups.

Is Google doing enough to address so-called 'fake news'?

It’s clearly a problem we need to address. We’ve updated our ads policies to ensure that ads are not being served on sites that misrepresent themselves as news. We’ve upgraded our publisher policy too. In this region, we need to help publishers reach the right audiences and make money online so they can produce high-quality content that is meaningful and relevant to users.

Is Google still interested in community building like Facebook, Snapchat etc?

Don’t forget we have one of the largest communities with YouTube. It’s a phenomenal community, and we want to continue to engage them. A lot of creators are building phenomenal fan bases which are incredibly engaged with content. We’re improving tools and services to provide better engagement.

What’s your forecast for trends in 2017?

I’m incredibly bullish on APAC. At a fundamental level, I think people are starting to see that innovation is coming from Asia and that they need to create products for this region before the rest of the world. That’s exciting for me. Programmatic advertising is becoming more relevant and important here. This region will move the fastest. You’re also going to see a very strong move into the cloud where people move their entire business onto the cloud and use layers of machine intelligence to make strong data-based management decisions.

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