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Andy Betts
M Posted 9 years ago
t 5 min read

"Although digital has been around a long time, we are still on the front edge of a massive transformation – the ability for companies of all sizes to capitalize on this is still in its infancy.”

These wise words are courtesy of Darren Pleasance, head of customer acquisition at Google. Managing a global team, Darren is responsible for finding companies who are not yet utilizing online marketing, and helping them get started with Google's advertising products (search, display, YouTube).

Darren is responsible for finding these companies, enticing them to try online marketing, setting up and optimizing their first campaigns, and then handing them to Google account management teams once the customer has been onboarded.

In short, Darren owns the first 90 days of the customer life cycle, and is responsible for making them successful and happy. And here's a fun fact: Darren is also a pilot who flies himself to work at Google every week!

I had the pleasure of catching up with Darren to talk more about Share 14, his views on the market and what opportunities lie ahead for the digital marketer.

The ability for companies of all sizes to capitalize is still in its infancy

Andy Betts (AB): What excites you the most about the digital market?

Darren Pleasance (DP): Although digital has been around a while now, we are still on the front edge of a massive transformation. The ability for companies of all sizes to capitalize is still in its infancy.

We are still scratching the surface of the opportunity, and many companies are still transitioning from traditional marketing techniques. Finding a balance between traditional and new media technology is key to success, in order to build upon the opportunity to become more contextually relevant.

Digital marketing offers a terrific value proposition, and it’s still in the early stages. For context, there are over 100 million businesses in the world today, and less than 10 percent of them spend any money advertising online.

AB: How do you see the market evolving?

DP: What is so unique about our industry is that the market still innovates and evolves in a way that keeps it exciting and interesting. The integration of content, search, social, mobile, video and the development of apps continue to transform how people spend their time and where they engage.

Apps in particular are creating a dramatic shift in where people go online, with activity today about 20 percent time in browser, 20 percent at Facebook, and the balance in other apps, including games such as CandyCrush, videos such as YouTube, social such as SnapChat, productivity services such as as OpenTable and Uber, etc. This shift, of course, brings with it challenges and opportunities.

There is also huge opportunity in shifting brand dollars from TV to digital whilst, with balance, capitalizing on the synergy between the two channels. Digital marketing has largely, to date, been used to reach customers closer to the "bottom of the funnel," when they're close to making a purchase decision.

At Google, we call this "performance" advertising. Looking forward, technologies are emerging that allow advertisers to use products like video and display to reach and influence customers much earlier in their decision process.

This has historically been the domain of TV, print and radio, and these still capture the lion's share of advertising spend today (TV spend is more than 2x all online advertising spend combined, and 20x all online video spend), but some of this spend will clearly be migrating online over the coming years due to the improved ability to target and track the impact of this spend.

Mobile, of course, is also a major opportunity we're pursuing. We're in a multi-screen world now with mobile set to surpass desktop users this year (1.6 billion desktops, 1.5 billion mobile devices right now).

With innovations such as geolocation, messaging and mobile apps, mobile ads are rapidly becoming the advertising format of choice for many advertisers.

AB: Content is central to Share 14 theme this year. How do you view the role of content in digital marketing?

DP: It’s a core component of marketing strategy that has pivotal roles across all parts of the customer acquisition and retention life cycle.

There is a new phase of content development forming with in-app and mobile experiences. Content is being developed and tailored for device types that fundamentally improve the overall experience. It’s surprising to still see people just digitize content, but not actually tailor it for mobile.

When we look at video content, YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world. The ability to create low-cost, high-quality content with the help of companies like GoPro, and low-cost editing software has taken the digital world by storm.

The problem is a lot of this content is of poor quality and often not relevant to the end user. The opportunity is for advertisers to take advantage of these new types of content and tools to engage advertisers, often in a mobile context, in relevant and entertaining ways that have not been possible to date.

Google at Share14

AB: Can you give us a sneak preview of what you intend to talk about at Share 14?

DP: I will be sharing some key insights into how the landscape in digital has evolved, and what big trends we are witnessing, while also sharing some tactical tips on how to best take advantage of all the tools available to you, as a digital marketer, to capitalize on these exciting trends.