Google flew MODassic out to tour the Googleplex

7 min read

Earlier this week MODassic was named a Google Engage All Star and flown out to Mountain View, CA for an all expenses paid trip to Google.

It was an absolute honor and an amazing experience. We took a tour of the Googleplex, got to see an unreleased Google product (sorry we signed an NDA so can’t talk about that part) and learned a lot after a full day of sessions, focus groups and advanced training. Additionally, we were able to connect with other top performing agencies from across the country.

This post is a short summary of why we were there, our experience and what we learned.

Why we were there

Out of 14,000 eligible agencies only 200 were 2013 Google Engage All Stars, based on Google AdWords performance metrics – MODassic was honored to be one of them.

“If you’re in this room, you’re the best of the best. And you’ve proven you have a passion for helping small businesses.” -Minjae Lee, Google

One of my favorite ads is by Google and reads, “You know who needs a haircut? People searching for a haircut.” The simple ad points out the obvious power of search ads. As we get more connected, digital marketing becomes even more important. People don’t think about going and getting online to look something up. They just do. They’re already there.

Google makes it easy for clients to sign up and start running ads, but under that to really make it work requires strategy, optimization, creative and an understanding of a client’s business. That is why Google invests in top performing agencies like ours. They’ve catered lunch & learn’s at our office, provide training materials and research studies and best of all flew us out to the Googleplex!


Our experience

We were picked up from our hotel and arrived at the Googleplex early Monday morning and were immediately struck by the “campus life” culture. Google feels like an imaginary and wonderful college campus. The perfect California weather adds to the surreal atmosphere, especially coming from 100 degree temps in Texas. A few googlers passed by getting in their morning jog, while others were working with a personal trainer and doing yoga. We walked further into the campus and passed the organic garden and sand volleyball court where a morning game of volleyball had already started. We then headed to breakfast and this wasn’t just a cheap hotel style breakfast but a fully catered meal. It was amazing and it wasn’t just for us. We learned that all Google employees (and their guests) can eat breakfast, lunch and dinner every day for free. Additionally, no employee is more than 100 yards away from food and drink at anytime (and they’ve measured it!).

After breakfast we saw a yellow bike pass by, then another and then another. Soon the campus was swarming with Googlers all riding custom, yellow Google bikes. Going across campus? Just grab a bike, take it where you need to go and then leave it there. Someone else will then grab it and take it where they are going. There are a few thousand of these bikes across the campus and it’s a beautiful scene.

Additionally, we learned that Google has the largest private transportation system in the US. They bus in a large number of their employees from all over the San Jose, Palo Alto and San Francisco area. The company culture and atmosphere at Google is like nothing I’ve ever seen. It’s one of the most innovative and prolific companies in the world yet feels like hardly anyone is actually working – but clearly they are.


What we learned

A big focus was on the newly launched “enhanced campaigns”. If you run Google AdWords you should at least be familiar with all the emails and notices about how accounts were recently automatically upgraded to enhanced campaigns.

Enhanced campaigns provide some really powerful tools. Primarily in regards to: optimizing for location, optimizing for mobile and remarketing.

With the new location settings, you can now adjust bids around locations within the same campaign. Previously you had to create a separate campaign to target different locations with different bids and creative. You can now adjust bids and serve different ads based on very specific locations. Since certain states, cities, zip codes or radius around particular locations will convert at different rates, this is a great feature.

For example, if customers in TX convert better than those in OK, you can adjust your bids in those markets. Additionally, if you have a physical store, you can target within a radius of your location and serve ads to attract a nearby shopper or adjust your bid. is doing something very interesting with this feature as they are targeting a tight radius around Best Buy locations to capture shoppers who are in Best Buy but looking online for a cheaper price or reviews. It’s a smart move that Best Buy will have to figure out how to counter or else they’ll become Amazon’s show room.

In addition to adjusting bids and ads by location, you can also adjust them by device. Users on different devices have different intentions and conversion rates therefore adjusting bids and creative by device is extremely valuable.

While many consider tablets to be mobile devices, searches performed on tablets are more like desktops than mobile devices. If you think about it for a moment, it really makes sense. The difference is the time of day. Desktops and laptops are more active during the day when you’re at your desk while tablets are more active in the evening when users are sitting on their couch. They’re different times of day but their search queries are more similar than mobile. As a marketer that is important to know as you develop your digital strategy.

Another key feature of the new enhanced campaigns is additional features around remarketing. Remarketing allows you to serve your ads on other websites to those who have previously visited your site. Similar to location and mobile you can now adjust your bids and creative for those who have already visited your site. This opens a lot of possibilities to close sales or even perform negative targeting.

In addition to new features from enhanced campaigns, a big takeaway was understanding the journey of the customer through data.

“6% of marketing decisions are made using company data.” – Google

This is not a good thing. Make sure your company is part of the 6% and study the data to make smart and profitable marketing decisions. Additionally, many companies are looking at the wrong data. 60% of companies use likes and followers as signs of social media success and many put too much stock in metrics like Time on Site.

Neil Hoyne of Google gave a great anecdote about why these metrics alone are poor measures of success. The first was the fact that Lamborghini has nearly 6 million likes on Facebook. They clearly don’t sell anywhere near 6 million cars (they don’t need to) and I’d bet that most people who actually buy Lamborghinis aren’t on Facebook liking their page. The second example was aimed at “Time on site”. If you’re looking to improve time on site perhaps you should slow your site down, or make things harder to find. If you stood in line at a store for a long time would you expect the store manager to say “wow, look he’s really engaging with our store content”. No.

Purchases are the sum of many moments. As smart marketers, we can’t just focus on or give credit to the last click or touchpoint. Instead we must focus on the entire journey of the customer.

One very important fact that was really driven home was that mobile requires you to redefine direct response. Your ROI is drastically different when you attribute in-store visits and calls back to your online ads. Mobile plays a key role in driving those conversions but often doesn’t get credit for it.

Google has put together this really cool online calculator to help you calculate the true value of mobile and this case study video on Adidas further drives home the point.

“Mobile currently makes up 20-50% of web traffic and is growing by 80% year over year. It will be the primary way to reach your customers within 1-2 years” – Google

If you understand the journey of the customer you will do the following:

  1. Always be there on all devices. Many users cross between devices. 50% of purchases take over 19 days.
  2. Always be optimized (by utilizing those enhanced campaign features for location, mobile and remarketing)
  3. Always be relevant. Don’t serve “call now” buttons in ads at a time of day that you’re not open. If someone is on mobile and looking for location, serve up a map and call link. Deliver what users are looking for.

Our trip to Google was very fun, educational and rewarding – a once in a lifetime experience. We were already proud to be named a top performing agency and now we are even more equipped to help our clients succeed!



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This project is by CivicBrand, the civic focused division of our agency,
so this case study lives on

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