Power Players 2009

Google's Brin & Page Are Ad Age's No. 13 Power Players

The Advertising-Shy King of Search Shows that Brand Power Comes Through Product Focus

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Last Year
THE POWER: Google is spreading its tentacles into many industries, including some beyond advertising, but all the important decisions are still made by the founders, along with CEO Eric Schmidt. According to people at the company, Messrs. Brin and Page are still very hands-on, and make the final decisions on the kinds of businesses and ventures the company invests in. They're also the ones behind Google's own advertising-shy mindset; only recently has it started actively marketing some of its products such as Google Maps, Google Docs and the browser Chrome.

THE NUMBERS: Google's 2008 revenue grew more than 23% to $7.4 billion, almost all of which came from advertising sales. Still, it spends very little on advertising itself, relying mostly on its own tools such as search and YouTube for disseminating its messages. Google's 2008 measured-media spend was $26 million.

THE KEY LIEUTENANTS: Marissa Mayer, VP-search products and user experience, is the keeper of the Google.com aesthetic and is famous for her reliance on algorithmic data to make design decisions; Lorraine Twohill is VP-global marketing, responsible for B-to-B and B-to-C efforts, and reports to Nikesh Arora, president of global sales operations and business development; Andy Berndt is managing director of the Google Creative Lab, which is Google's in-house agency.

THE CHALLENGE: Google is still synonymous with search, but, as it expands into cloud-hosted productivity software, a browser, mobile and desktop operating systems, green energy and new products like Google Wave, it will need to do more consumer-awareness efforts. In fact, it could even afford to tout some of the innovations and products it's launched around its core search engine; when Bing launched, it managed to generate lots of excitement over add-ons and features that Google already offered -- people just didn't know about them.

THE AGENCIES: Google favors independent shops, and, while it lacks an outside agency of record, project work has been spread among Wieden & Kennedy; Toy; Naked Communications; and Creature. It has previously tapped Crispin Porter & Bogusky, but that's unlikely to happen going forward given Crispin's giant Microsoft account.

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