Byravee Iyer
Jun 25, 2015

Cannes: Google’s agency-sales head wants to push creativity

CANNES - At Google, Torrence Boone is in charge of bolstering agency-relations and securing the big bucks from the big advertising agencies.

Torrence Boone
Torrence Boone

Boone says the search engine’s relationship with agencies has changed dramatically. “Right now our dialogue is all about the marketing context five years from now,” he adds. He doesn’t shy away from the tough questions either and talks openly about the company’s future and the growing dominance of Facebook.

Edited excerpts:

What is Google’s creative support strategy for agencies?

This comes from our team called Zoo. We describe it as a creative think tank. Its purpose is to collaborate with agencies and their clients to unlock the full creative potential of our products and platforms. We work way upstream, pre-brief to help them ideate against changing digital landscape opportunities. An example of this is the ‘Found’ campaign we did for Mars Pedigree with BBDO Colenso, and Google APAC collaborated very tightly with the two.

There’s a notion that Google doesn’t get many creative briefs.  What is your plan to change that?

We are still, I think, at the early stages of pushing the envelope creatively from a digital perspective. Part of the progress is connected with when we engage and how we engage and the creative brief is often the roadmap for that. We have a strategic planning function that works with agency planners to inform the brief.

How is Google managing relationships with agencies especially when clients have the option to use DoubleClick?

We have very tight strategic partnerships across the ecosystem that spans data and analytics, particularly around the planning process. This includes things like programmatic and so on. We broker very deep partnerships with agencies and the Google stack and that’s an important part of our partnerships business.

We also partner with agencies on content. It’s why we’ve invested in YouTube because it is this amazing platform for creativity and the viewership and reach of the platform continues to grow dramatically. Viewership and watch time is up 50 per cent on a global basis. It’s up 90 per cent year-on-year on mobile. And 50 per cent of our views are through mobile. Content creators are providing the next generation of creative engagement with brands. We also partner with agencies on new revenue streams, performance and operating efficiencies and are experts at executing against search. It is really broad and we customise depending on their objectives.

How is Google competing with Facebook on data? Facebook is now able to provide analytics on whether an ad led to purchase.

The important point to make about Google is we’re across the entire internet. We’re not closed or a walled garden as others are often described. While a number of other platforms have significant reach it’s hard to rival the expansiveness of the entire web and the ability to connect with users where it matters. An open orientation to the web is a big point of differentiation. We have a diversity of products and it’s really unrivalled—Android, YouTube, search, the DoubleClick stack and then you have all of the innovation around self driving cars, broadband access, Google Play and so on. So what agencies and brands say to us is that there are no other players in the market place that offer that kind of diversity and who can marry the data and insights through the objectives of the given brands.

With YouTube starting to focus on subscriptions, how important is the ad business – it’s still not making money for most creators?

The ad business is critical and will continue to be, making up a vast majority of the monetisation of the platform. That’s not special to YouTube. It took Spotify took 10 years to get 20 million plus users and still subscribers are a small percentage of it. For us philosophically the open web has been made possible by ads. We are invested in making that a continued experience for the world and in order to do that you need that ad support. We’re trying to push creative.

What are agencies asking you?

Three major things: online video—that links back to YouTube. Mobile—agencies and clients recognise the future is here. And programmatic—they want to know how they can leverage the Google stack to allow marketing to operate much more efficiently. 


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