Google’s chief search evangelist, Nicolas Darveau-Garneau, was in town earlier this week to present at IAB Australia’s MeasureUp conference, and also caught up with B&T to discuss the evolution of search and what the future holds in this space.
Chief search evangelist is a pretty cool title. How would you describe your role?
I am lucky enough to work with many of the top advertisers. My role is to help them get the most out of Google search and help grow their business.
You’ve been with Google on and off for the last seven years. What has changed in search during this time?
A lot. We’ve seen the rise of mobile, with people increasingly making decisions in the moment, turning to their mobile phones to guide them where to go and what to do in the offline world.
Search used to be relatively simple. Now we live in a world of constant connectivity.
For advertisers, that means the challenge is not just reach, but reaching the right audience at the right time, with the right message.
While much has changed, our core mission – to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful – has not.
What are some of the most exciting changes we will see in search in the next seven years?
When someone conducts a search, they want an answer – not trillions of web pages to scroll through. For users, search is about discovery – learning something new about the world, having fun, and getting inspired.
One of the changes I’m most excited about is machine learning and artificial intelligence. At Google, we’ve seen firsthand the possibilities that AI can create. Many of our Google products and tools use machine learning – from Search to YouTube to Google Translate – and it’s enabling new experiences that we’ve never before been able to create, like the Google Assistant.
Machine learning provides the tools to process this data to better understand each individual, their preferences and needs to provide personalisation and assistance.
Your talk at IAB Australia’s MeasureUp conference in Sydney focused on how digital advertisers can effectively leverage their own sales data to measure lifetime customer value. Can you share with us some of those insights?
Measurement is important because it enables marketers to show how they are delivering business results.
Many advertisers focus on the cost per acquisition or transaction value. However, we know that not all customers are the same.
We now have the tools to better understand consumer value, intent and behaviour and advertisers can use this to deliver the right ad to the right person at the right time. This deeper understanding of the channels/platforms that drive the most valuable customers can deliver significant growth.
What would your message be to brands that aren’t currently leveraging search advertising?
The opportunity is huge. People are increasingly turning to a device (usually a smartphone) to act on a need – to learn, do, discover, watch, or learn. For brands, search gives you the opportunity to be there in these moments.
What do you think is the future of search and what should companies start thinking about to be successful?
Consumers expect a fast, seamless experience online – and that means brands have much to gain by ensuring their customers have a great experience when they search.
While it’s impossible to predict the future as technology is changing so rapidly, it seems likely screenless and predictive search will become increasingly important.
For brands, my advice is to focus on getting the basics right, such as ensuring your data is organised, your site is fast, your content is relevant and users have a seamless experience. These four things will be essential for success in the future.