In the final presentation of the day at the Goldman Sachs Technology conference in San Francisco, it was Google's turn on the stage. On hand was Nikesh Arora, President of global sales operations and business development, chance to talk about search. advertising and mobile.
The topics of discussion were all over the place - and it wasn't until the Q&A session that anyone mentioned Google's dispute with China and how that might impact multi-national advertising deals that the company is trying to score. Arora said he couldn't really comment on anything related to the ongoing dispute with the Chinese government but did say that he hoped it wouldn't have any impact on business outside of China.
Beyond that, there was also a fair amount of discussion around the mobile strategies, including the online sales of the Nexus One and the integration with tools built into mobile devices.
He noted that mobile isn't really replacing traditional search as much as its complementing it, allowing users to search remotely for things that matter most to them when they're out and about. They're mobile during lunch and during the commute hours, for example, and that's opening new sort of advertising opportunities being built into mobile search. Using Google Maps for search on a mobile device, for example, brings a different set of results for businesses and other services because they're based on location and they include things like navigational directions, phone numbers and even reviews.
In terms of the new approach to selling mobile devices, Arora said the company is trying to change the consumer buying model to one where users can choose both device and carrier of their choice. He said the company is trying to make it work but that they're not saying that they won't go back to the traditional model down the road.
Like Yahoo, Google also noticed that online advertising models actually benefited from the economic downturn in the sense that businesses began to understand the value that an online advertising strategy offered. For example, movie studios were big on multi-platform campaigns for movie launches - a short term blast all across the Internet in a short period of time. The Internet allows advertisers to have more discovery and targetability, he said.
Near the end of the presentation, he was asked about display ads on the Google.com home page, which remains a clean-slate, ad-free page with a search box. He replied that the company is trying to push away from buying ads for particular sites toward buying ads for particular audiences. His reply was that Google.com was designed to be an ad-free experience and that seems to work.
He was asked if that was a "no" answer. His reply:
"I've worked at Google for five years and I find it hard to say no to anything because I'm constantly being surprised... And no, that's not a yes" to the question.