Google honing in on SMBs with Play, Apps, Fiber and other new tools

Google's business chiefs explain how the Internet giant has been making strides to serve small businesses, including building assembling teams “laser-focused" on making ad campaigns readily available to jump across screens.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

Google garnered numerous headlines over the first half of 2014 for several multi-million (and multi-billion) deals. But executives for the Internet giant reiterated a growing focus on serving small businesses from every corner of its burgeoning portfolio of products.

“Small businesses are the cornerstone of the world's economy and a major priority for us at Google,” remarked chief business officer Nikesh Arora, who announced his departure for Softbank in Thursday’s second quarter earnings report.

However, Arora lamented that many SMBs still don’t even have a website.

Arora outlined how Google is targeting this opportunity, such as with the recent launch of “Google My Business,” a new program that sets up small businesses with resources and features from Google Maps, Search, and Plus.

Arora and Google’s chief financial officer Patrick Pichette touted other investments the Android maker has made to serve small businesses, including building popular mobile ad formats and assembling teams “laser-focused" on making ad campaigns readily available to jump across screens.

For example, Google leadership pointed toward HotelTonight, a mobile-first travel business that lists high-end and boutique hotel rooms at bargain basement prices for travelers at the last minute.

Google’s financial chiefs explained how HotelTonight uses mobile search ads to drive users to purchase quickly within the mobile app.

Arora posited that international mobile search campaigns like this one "drive higher conversion rates compared to other direct response channels."

Google is increasingly working on drawing in small businesses and independent developers onto some of its larger platforms as well.

Google Play, for example, continues to grow at “break-neck speed,” remarked Arora, now showing in more than 90 countries. Recent launches took place in Argentina, Poland, and the Czech Republic.

“This means more developers can build successful businesses on our platform,” Arora described about Play.

But the most business-forward (and obvious) offering would undoubtedly be Google Apps. Over 60 percent of Fortune 500 use paid products, according to the Mountain View, Calif.-headquartered corporation.

With steep price cuts to the Google Cloud Platform matched by additional free space and new features on Google Drive, Google is banking big that its SMB and enterprise momentum will continue through the second half of the year.

Pichette also hinted at a strategy driven by responding to small business and startup demand — one most obviously demonstrated by Google Fiber.

While he provided few details and noted we shouldn’t expect more until the end of the year, Pichette cited that the Google Fiber team is working with 34 cities to complete a "checklist of items to help us prepare for the next kind of wave of our construction project."

Previous cities where Fiber has already been deployed, such as Austin, Texas and Provo, Utah, exhibit a pattern of following and tapping into smaller metropolitan areas where startup communities are evolving and even thriving.

"The economics of a fiber network today are clearly much cheaper than they were, say, a decade ago,” Pichette reflected, adding that an important part of Google’s strategy is to build to demand but also work closely with each city to streamline the process and keep costs down.

Editorial standards