Many people think that Google is a search engine. That’s true, but it’s only part of a much larger story that Google is developing. Indeed, the company increasingly sees itself as a diversified media buying platform. Already print newspaper ad buying, radio and TV are integrated, to varying degrees, into AdWords. And last Thursday Google’s Tim Armstrong outlined a provocative and much larger vision for the company that would incorporate it more centrally into major ad agencies’ media buying and planning processes.
Armstrong, who is President, Advertising and Commerce for Google in North America, was speaking at the American Association of Advertising Agencies Media Conference in Orlando, Florida. Here’s the description of Armstrong’s session: Why Google Is Not Out to Disintermediate Agencies Google has the fifth highest market capitalization, after only nine years of existence. Tim Armstrong, Google’s North American president for advertising and commerce, will talk about the company’s plans for getting everywhere as soon as possible, and will try to convince a skeptical audience that Google will not disintermediate agencies.
What Armstrong outlined in the talk was a Google media buying and planning “dashboard.” According to MediaPost:
“It basically takes a mix of different media types and puts them together,” he said, adding that the system, which is still being developed, was part of a suite of new tools Google is building to make the lives of media buyers “easier.” The new dashboard, he said, would enable buyers to manage mixes of offline media like TV, radio and print campaigns, with their online display and search advertising, and to harness their data streams to show how one platform influences traffic to the others.
The deep level of ad-agency integration that this implies would presumably enable Google to capture a larger slice of the brand advertising pie. However, several factors might conspire against Google in this scenario:
- Agency fear and/or resistance
- Agency development of a competing system that accomplishes the same objectives
- The possibility that media buying cannot be automated to the degree Google assumes
Silicon Alley Insider also captures another level of potential resistance: “Google wants to be your media planner. And your research department. All functions that make up a big part of the giant ad conglomerates already.” In other words, these are bread and butter agency functions that bring in revenue.
Regardless, there’s a kind of “inexorable” logic to the Google cross-media dashboard. For the past several years, Google has envisioned itself as a more efficient way to buy media across the full range of advertising platforms and has very self-consciously been moving toward this goal.