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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Google Ad is on Perfect

The Internet has had an enormous impact on people's lives around the world in the ten years since Google's founding. It has changed politics, entertainment, culture, business, health care, the environment and just about every other topic you can think of. Which got us to thinking, what's going to happen in the next ten years? How will this phenomenal technology evolve, how will we adapt, and (more importantly) how will it adapt to us? We asked ten of our top experts this very question, and during September (our 10th anniversary month) we are presenting their responses. As computer scientist Alan Kay has famously observed, the best way to predict the future is to invent it, so we will be doing our best to make good on our experts' words every day. - Karen Wickre and Alan Eagle, series editors

Google's advertising business was founded on the core principle that advertising should deliver the right information to the right person at the right time. This is very similar to our mission in search, and, like our colleagues in search, those of us on the ads team are constantly striving to achieve better results. We have hundreds of thousands of advertisers who collectively have millions of products and services, and out of that vast amount of information our goal is always to show people the best ads, the ones that are the most relevant, timely, and useful (and, from the advertiser perspective, measurable). Achieving this ideal has been difficult since the early days of ads, but now, with the Internet, it is within reach.

What does it take to do this? We need to understand exactly what people are looking for, then give them exactly the information they want. Timing is an important component. For example, when a person is looking for a specific item (like those table lamps I got a couple of weeks ago), the best ads will give more specific information, like where to buy the item online and locally, along with other relevant information such as style, size, availability, and pricing. Regardless of the timing, the best ads might include images, videos, or other formats about products and services to provide the most relevant information to people to make their purchasing decision.

In other cases, ads can help you learn about something you didn’t know you wanted. For instance, a few weeks ago I was researching roller coasters for my son when I saw a great text ad for software that actually lets you design your own roller coaster! It turned out to be the perfect gift (and I now have a budding roller coaster engineer in my house). So in this case, I was doing some basic research, and the ad helped me discover something I didn't know existed.

As we look forward, one way to make ads better would be to customize them based on factors like a person's location or preferences. If you're in a particular neighborhood using your mobile phone to look for a specific type of restaurant or shop, ads from local vendors are likely to be very useful to you.

Finally, it is very important that anyone be able to advertise. People benefit when they see ads from any type of business or organization regardless of its size or geography. The right product for a user might be from a company they had previously never heard of, so it needs to be very easy and quick for anyone to create good ads, to show them only to people for whom they are useful, and to measure how effective they are.

In Marissa's post on Wednesday, she talked about how the science of search is still in its infancy, and how we still have many breakthroughs before us. The same applies to advertising. In coming years, as people find new ways to use the Internet and new devices with which to access it, we have the opportunity to get even smarter about the ads we show. As always, we will use the best and most innovative technologies available so we serve relevant ads for you. We will do so in a way that safeguards user privacy by honoring our commitment to transparency and choice. And most importantly, we will continue to live by the philosophy that has guided our work from the outset: getting the right ad to the right person at the right time matters.



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