NATPE 2008

Google's Tim Armstrong: Web Will Unleash Ad Creativity

Search Giant Also Interested in Tracking TV Spots' Performance

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LAS VEGAS ( -- While paid-search ads online are among the most basic and utilitarian of commercial units, Google's head of ad sales expressed the belief that the internet will spur more creativity over time -- especially as image and video search become more common.
Tim Armstrong
Tim Armstrong Credit: Scott Gries

The advent of social networks such as MySpace and Facebook "will expand the need for creative," Tim Armstrong, Google's North America president-advertising and commerce, said in a conversation with Ad Age Digital Editor Abbey Klaassen. Their one-on-one was part of a day of Ad Age panels at the annual National Association of Television Program Executives Conference. "A lot of the agencies are retooling," Mr. Armstrong said.

Mr. Armstrong's remarks come after a recent announcement from Google and Publicis Groupe that calls for the two companies to collaborate to develop new products and tools and exchange talent by embedding executives in each others' companies. The talent exchange will not be limited to agencies' online functions but will include offline areas as well, such as spot-media, cable-TV and radio-ad buying. It also will help Google develop relationships with Publicis' creative shops, which include Saatchi and Fallon.

Video and images
As so-called "universal search" -- which includes video and image results -- becomes more of a reality, Mr. Armstrong said he could see a day when paid-search ads included some of those elements. That could heighten the need for creativity in online advertising, as it would allow more than just marketing that calls for a direct response.

Mr. Armstrong also suggested a Google view on how TV ads are performing. Google is analyzing data from set-top boxes to determine how ads it runs on certain Echostar Dish Network channels are viewed. Google in October said it would partner with Nielsen to give advertisers an even clearer picture of how ads perform. Mr. Armstrong said the most surprising finding was the number of people who reach for a remote control right away whenever commercials come on. He suggested that, rather than running full slates of ads, networks might figure out which ads perform the best, then run fewer ads -- only the ones that have been shown to attract viewers.
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