Advertising Industry Executives Reflect on 25 Years of Google

Most of us have long since forgotten when we began using “Google” as a verb, but you’d be hard pressed to find a more influential and omnipresent advertising partner in the past 25 years than the Google we use in noun form. As Google itself celebrates their quarter-century birthday, top executives from around the industry weigh in on Google’s milestone, their influence, and the future.

By R. Larsson, Advertising Week

Geoffroy Martin, Chief Executive Officer, Ogury 

“With only 41% of advertisers being moderately aware of alternative targeting methods to cookies, the industry is in need of a major overhaul, with solutions to match the scale of the privacy challenge. While Google’s Privacy Sandbox aims to provide relief in the cookieless future, brands should be cautious about becoming overly reliant on one partner. Brands and media agencies should use the coming months as an opportunity to equip themselves with the right tools and partners that can support them, as another key date for Google is approaching: in less than six months, Google will begin its long-awaited deprecation of third-party cookies.”

David Spencer, Chief Technology Officer, Acceleration, a WPP company 

“Google has created an explosion of digital advertising potential for brands. Google Cloud, in particular, has proven to be a key technology for advertisers to navigate the shift to a privacy-centric digital landscape. It allows marketers access to cookieless measurements and behavioural and conversion modelling to increase ROI with better data-driven decisions.”

Sarah Whitfield, CMO at Covatic

“Google has completed its ‘young adult’ stage as one of the internet’s most prolific players. But to stay relevant for the next 25 years, both it and the digital advertising industry it serves will need to start showing real maturity.

“In such a crowded ecosystem, brands want to deliver engaging and ever more personalised ad experiences to consumers in order to stand out. The move to a more privacy-first approach – driven by consumer expectations and legislation – is also at odds with traditional digital advertising methods. While Google has recognised the need for change, the pace has been painfully slow.

“Going forward, Google’s popular, efficient services will still hold some appeal for advertisers – especially in tough economic times. However, disruption often forces brands to find alternative solutions, and this will open the door for smaller players on a mission to improve marketing in more creative ways.”

Ryan Stewart, Head of Publisher Acquisition (North America) at MGID

“While Google has driven standards and innovation, the expansion of its advertising business transformed its services into highly controlled environments. Its end-to-end control over digital advertising has limited interoperability, left little room for competitive neutrality, and stifled ad-tech pluralism. Today, its strides towards a more privacy-centric web are welcome, but the transition must be managed carefully as without third-party cookies, brands could become even more reliant on Google’s first-party data.

“The much-discussed decoupling or restructuring of Google’s ad tech segments could invigorate the industry with fresh innovation and reduce monopolistic concerns. However, any such changes should be navigated with care, otherwise, the very essence of the open web could be compromised in the process. For now, Google continues to be both a pioneer and a gatekeeper in the ever-present tug-of-war between the open web and walled gardens.”

Nick Morgan, Founder and CEO, Vudoo

“Google has had a longstanding polarising relationship with publishers, which has only intensified since the recent introduction of generative AI search, decreasing the traffic that Google sends to publishers’ sites.

Publishers need to think laterally and resteer into blue ocean space. There is now technology out there that can allow users to make purchases on site through a single piece of video or image content, without leaving the page they are engaging with. As a result, publishers can regain ownership of their ad revenues and keep users on site.”

Toby McAra, Chief Revenue Officer, Making Science

As it marks its 25th anniversary, Google shows no signs of resting on its laurels – evidenced in the developments announced at its recent Cloud Next summit. BigQuery’s previewed developments and Vertex AI’s increased capacity and supported languages mean Google’s Solution Suite will continue to make comprehensive data analysis accessible to marketers, giving them control of their campaigns. These developments will only further enhance the success our clients already see from leveraging Google’s growing suite of Cloud products, with brands such as hotel chain RIU already generating 230% increase in ROAS.

For Google to lead AI innovation it needs compute power. Its A3, powered by NVIDIA, will ensure continued scalability, learnings and development. Doing this safely, with a focussed lens on security and privacy will be challenging, but key to ensuring its domination over the next 25 years.

Paul Thompson, Country Manager, Seedtag

“After 25 years of search dominance, Google is facing – perhaps for the first time – a credible threat to its hugely profitable advertising business with the emergence of generative AI and a reordering of how people access and consume information on the web. No doubt the recent moves by Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai to merge the AI teams, reflects efforts to ensure that Google continues to innovate and build products around Large Language Models ahead of the competition. However, it is no longer a foregone conclusion that the transition from search to AI driven search will be as profitable, or, whether  rivals like Chat GPT and Microsoft will catch up and supersede the current ‘blue links’ organic search model.”

Romain Job, Chief Strategy Officer, Equativ

“While many celebrate Google’s rise from plucky upstart to web query giant this anniversary, others are focused on more interesting questions. Amid tough competition from Gen AI innovators, there’s rising speculation around how the technology behemoth will evolve to defend its dominance — particularly what happens if Bard doesn’t see off rivals and become the new default search tool. Analysts agree that Alphabet’s efforts to diversify have faced fierce competition in the cloud tech and AI markets and Google Advertising revenue remains essential to the group investment strategy. At the same time, united calls from EU and US legislators for a break up of the wider Google advertising ecosystem could mean much-needed concessions that better enable independent players to support open programmatic transactions; ultimately helping the open web to thrive and share a larger piece of the cake. Whatever happens, however, it’s likely big changes will arrive long before the next major milestone, possibly as soon as 2024.”

Emma Lacey, SVP EMEA, Zefr

“Getting to 25 years old is no mean feat in tech, and Google has been able to achieve this milestone by focusing on innovation and staying ahead of the curve. How it will tackle the internet’s next epoch will be just as fascinating.”

“As arguably the pioneer of making user generated content discoverable online, it inevitably follows that Google needs to be serious when it comes to funding legitimate content and keeping users safe. With the amount of content online set to explode due to generative AI tools and new legislation like the Online Safety Bill incoming, it will need to leverage the best technologies to not only ensure it stays ahead, but also to hold other platforms to account.”