Online brand advertising
He talked of a Long Tail of products, explaining that previously, by using traditional media, marketers could only advertise one or two products at a time because of how long it would take to create and execute the advertising. With services like Google's, however, he said, brand marketers are advertising all of their products, all the time -- and that's contributing to much of the online brand advertising growth.
"Most marketers are used to advertising just a fraction of their products due to that human scale required to advertise them," he said. Five years ago, he said, Hewlett Packard was running only two or three of their products on search. Today they're running thousands.
"Consumers are on 24 hours a day, you should have all your products available to them," Mr. Armstrong said. He said he couldn't "think of any companies where there isn't room left to grow with us."
Understanding Google's services
Increasing inventory would be a major catalyst for attracting more brand advertising, but perhaps more so would be marketer education on the types of services -- beyond search -- that Google offers. To that end, the company has led road shows to reach out to chief marketing officers and creative agencies to get them to think of Google products for other uses.
One oft-cited example is how Saturn used Google Earth and Google Video to create an online ad application where customers "fly" around Google Earth, then through the doors of their local dealership and watch a video of the actual sales manager welcoming them into the dealership. It was, he said, an example of connecting brand messages with an introduction and how Google is actively involved with talks across Saturn's sibling General Motor brands.
"P&G, Coke, Pepsi -- they see that as the future of product introduction. How do you take an experience that was linear and move it into something where you're able to introduce and experience it?" he said.
He said Google would also continue its work in offline media; it is happy with its print tests, while in radio Google has seen "lots of adoption both on the radio network side and advertiser side. ... The first question is, Will people use these systems? The answer is yes. The second question is, How do you continue to do it at scale? That's a lot of the beta testing we're doing right now."
Third-party ad serving
A Bank of America analyst asked Mr. Armstrong about Google's ad-serving philosophy and whether that was hindering marketer use of its display network. While most major online agencies serve their ads through DoubleClick or Atlas to simplify delivery and reporting, Google hasn't yet opened up its network to third-party ad serving. That means an agency that uses DoubleClick for virtually all of its ad placement would have to use a separate ad server, Google's, for buying display ads across AdSense.
Mr. Armstrong said Google faced the same issue in 2000 and 2001 with search -- people had asked whether Google would use a third-party ad server for search. Third-party ad servers, he said, "assume they can figure out how to target more effectively than you can." He said Google has been happy not to use third party ad servers to deliver its search ads and that it's "working diligently" in the branded ad space to continue to serve ads effectively.
He was bullish about the online ad market, saying that online media sellers are "not at a point where we're stealing share from each other," he said. "The more successful online is, the more successful all of us have been."