Mike Isaac

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Google Ad Chief Susan Wojcicki Explains Why Google Gets Ads

There are many miraculous things on the Web today; advertising is not one of them.

So said Walt Mossberg, in conversation with Google’s Susan Wojcicki and Sundar Pichai at the D: All Things Digital conference on Thursday. But with one caveat: Google seems to serve the right ads when people want them.

“One of the things that really matters is the moment,” said Wojcicki, who is SVP of ads for the search giant. That’s ingrained into Google’s flagship product, search. Search brings intent, a focus on finding a specific thing at a specific time. “Ad information, and targeting to serve the right ad at right time, makes a difference.”

From that moment, Google’s machine-learning smart ad systems — known internally as “Smartass,” says Wojcicki — kick in, playing a key part in the system’s success at showing the most relevant ads, featured in the most prominent positions.

Google is obviously doing something right — the company raked in $8.1 billion in revenue in its most recent quarter, the lion’s share of which was made from its ads business. Compare that to Facebook, whose ads are notoriously scattershot and still nascent in its online advertising strategy. So much so that General Motors pulled out of its ad deals with Facebook mere days before the company went public.

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