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Google in Grand Rapids

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/<a href="">Dave-Johnson</a> on Flickr

On May 19 at DeVos Place, Google came to town for their annual update on their business, bringing in their online sales and operations manager out of the Ann Arbor office, John Black, to detail the astonishing growth of their business and where the unstoppable spread of the Internet is taking the search and advertising giant cum web services provider for the next couple of years. In a full ballroom, well attended, and acknowledged by the speaker to be bigger than his largest expectations, the technorati of Grand Rapids was treated to a one-hour luncheon speech by Black, followed by two different session selections lasting approximately 45 minutes each. What resulted was the real sense that Google has nearly all the bases covered from online productivity applications, to mobile operating systems, to enterprise features in development that will expand the reach of Google far beyond their traditional simple interface for search.  

The luncheon speech was an overview of the growth of all things online, and it appears that Google has much room to grow organically, even in the of -chance that their myriad new services don't gain widespread adoption, which, if you have been following Gmail, Blogger, Picasa, Android, and Chrome, seems unlikely. This can be encapsulated in the simple statistic that  people are using the web to gather their day-to-day information 30 percent of the time, while only 8 percent of advertising dollars spent is online. As Google controls over 70 percent of the online advertising investment by all sizes of firms, a likely uptick in online advertising will benefit them the most, and only further enhance Google's ability to test new applications and services on a trial-and-error basis.

Black gave some insights in to the advertising platform that drives Google's revenues and then outlined the features that the search leader continues to expand into. At the moment, it would seem that no initiative is more vital to the expansion of Google than Android, the mobile phone operating system that now ships on more than 100 different types of handsets.  The mobile presence breakout session that followed was disappointing, as it was delivered by a software engineer who seemed more in tune with Apple's iPhone development. There was equal time given to offline mobile development and online services, which is inexplicable considering everything Google does in online.

Another breakout group was held on Advanced AdWords and Analytics. The presenter detailed the incredible minutia of offerings available to track web visitors to a website, where they are coming from, what they are doing on a site, and how advertising with Google leads to conversions of customers choosing to engage with a pre-determined success metric, like buying a product.

This seminar from Google was relevant considering the recent effort put in by residents of Grand Rapids to encourage the company to build their fiber network here, but this was only marginally addressed by Black. He said he has no influence on the ultimate decision.

The seminar in Grand Rapids coincided with the Google annual I/O developer conference in San Francisco. Some scoff at a company selling tiny ads on nearly all web properties to dominate the online era, but that is what is happening.

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