Vint Cerf, “Chief Internet Evangelist,” Touts Google’s Brand Building Potential

Everyone, it appears, is expected to help Google sell its advertising and brand-building services to new clients. Even when they have the title as a “father” of the Internet. See this video interview of Vint Cerf from a May 2008 event in Singapore. It illuminates a number of Google’s advertising and marketing strategies, including using the power of social media to “virally” promote brands. Here’s a transcript:

“Ogilvy Insights: How can brands tap into the social media phenomenon? An Ogilvy interview with Vinton G. Cerf, Google’s VP & Chief Internet Evangelist. Thursday 22 May, 2008 – Singapore.

Vinton G. Cerf: “Ok, so here’s an interesting phenomenon: We know that you don’t read every book that’s published, you don’t see every movie that’s produced, you don’t watch every television program and every radio program. Something is helping you decide what to look at, what to read.

Part of that something, we’ll call advertising information. And I want to make sure that we recognize that this is information. We call it advertising when we’re not interested in it. When we’re interested in it, it’s information. What Google wants to do is to make sure that the information that you get, that comes from advertising sources, is interesting to you, not disinteresting.

And so let’s think now as a brand; the brand thinker says “well, I need to get in front of as many people as possible so they are aware of my existence and why my products and services should be attractive to them. But the way people filter their interests is to listen to what other people have to say – their friends, their families, their teachers and so on. So we need to take advantage of that filtering mechanism. One way to do that is to make sure that those people whose opinion you listen to, that tell you what movies to watch, what books to read or what products to buy, know about my brand. Now, how to I go about doing that? Well one way is to do the traditional way of somehow plastering your logo up everywhere you possibly can, but that’s a shock dam… (not sure what he says here)

The more interesting this to do is to get your brand in front of someone who has some authority and interest in the products and services associated with that brand, so that person now becomes an anchor and whose opinion now counts in his or her circle of friends. So we now need to identify which people are the opinion makers in these various social groupings.

How can we do that? Well, Google in a way has a tool which helps us do that. Because the way we present advertising information is to put it up only if we think it is really of interest to that party. And in fact the thing that makes our advertising mechanism so valuable is that we are pretty good at getting an ad that someone will click on in front of that person. Their interest level is indicated by the fact that they clicked on the ad. I’m not gonna click on an ad I’m not interested in, that’s advertising. If I click on it, it’s information. So we have a built in filter to find the people who are interested in this particular brand or in the products associated with it.

So now what we need to do is to help the person who clicked on that ad, become an opinion maker. And one way to do that is to say; “Well, that if that person is part of a social network, then the fact that they clicked on the ad gives me an opportunity to give them a tool for making their interest in my brand known to their friends”. So when you look at OpenSocial, you discover mechanisms in there that allow people to tell their friends or draw attention to their friends to things that they have seen that they think their friends would be interested in. So the more that we can facilitate that communication, the more powerful this particular method of spreading knowledge of brands is gonna be.”

Author: jeff

Jeff Chester is executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. A former journalist and filmmaker, Jeff's book on U.S. electronic media politics, entitled "Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy" was published by The New Press in January 2007. He is now working on a new book about interactive advertising and the public interest.

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