Nov 23, 2012, 05.51 PM IST | Source: CNBC-TV18

User in control, nil device-context is future: Google India

Nikesh Arora, one of the brightest minds in information technology and senior vice-president and chief business officer at Google explains that a series of innovations by the company will increase user-control and render the context of the device redundant.

In the next five-to-ten years, we will not think of devices as desktop and mobile

Nikesh Arora

SVP

Google

On this edition of The Forbes India Show meet Nikesh Arora, one of the brightest minds in information technology and senior vice-president and chief business officer at Google explains that a series of innovations by the company will increase user-control and render the context of the device redundant.

Below is an edited transcript of the interview on CNBC-TV18

Q: At the announcement of your quarterly results in October founder Larry Page said that the company's revenues this year was going to be USD 8 billion compared to USD 2.5 billion last year. In this backdrop, with your forecast in 1999 that mobile-devices was where the future of Internet's search engines lay, does it excite or worry you that there could there be somebody out there like Google, which marched into the search-engine segment and rendered the competition obsolete, could grab your marketshare?

A: So far we seem to be doing okay in the mobile-device space. We have been paying attention to mobile for a long time and I think it is fair to say that Larry’s vision and idea to invest in Android was his point of view and belief that the mobile-phone would go through a transformation. His forecast has been proved right by the evidence of over 500 million Android-activated devices and we are turning around 1.3 million a day. This clearly proves that the mobile-phone revolution has taken off.

But I think the reason I state that as a company we are still where we were in 1999 because one of our first versions of where we brought the Web onto a mobile-device is the same. This has set a trend that whatever is done for the Web has been transported to a mobile-device. But I think there is going to be a whole series of innovations that will be designed for mobile devices. I think the times ahead are fascinating.

Q: Where do you see your edge?

A: It is important to understand the world view or what is likely to happen. I think it is fair to say that in the next five-to-ten years, we will not think of devices as desktop and mobile. I think the notion of desktop is going to vanish. They will become like storage hubs where store everything. But the fact that it will be used as a normal working device will sort of blend into the background, to be honest.

Overtime we are going to interact with a lot of screens. In that context, if you think about revenue in advertising, advertisers are people who want to engage with you as a user and want to do it in the most effective manner and in the most effective context. I think the Holy Grail of the advertising is if advertising was information, it would be very useful.

So if I am in the desert and I am thirsty, an ad for water is what I need. The challenge is to make advertising to be so much more useful to the user that it becomes information.

Q: How do you think you will be able to do that?

A: We are all in the early stages of a journey where our focus is on making life simple for advertisers so they do not have to think about users and contexts. All they have to do is decide on the target audience they want to interact with.

Q: So you come in as a technology interface or will you develop the message itself?

A: No, there is a whole creative industry out there.

Q: So it will be technology?

A: Yes. We are going to individualise advertising and everybody will get a different message based on what somebody understands about you.

Q: So that is where Click-To-Call becomes important? What is Click-To-Call?

A: Click-To-Call is a format on mobile devices where when a user sees an ad, instead of going and browsing through and looking at 10 different names on the website, a number will be made available because it’s much easier to call someone because that’s the natural behavior with such a device.

Q: And it's more cost-effective for the advertising because he pays only for that?

A: Totally. Most of Web advertising is based on performance. So if I don’t perform, you don’t have to pay me which is very different from traditional advertising.

Q: Are you going to try that in countries outside the US?

A: Yes, of course. We are implementing it in different parts of the world.

Q: When you spoke about broadcast advertising on YouTube, are you charging users to watch it?

A: We have a format called TrueView which is based on the idea that the user has a choice of skipping the ad on the Internet and if the user chooses to skip the ad, the advertiser doesn’t pay. Now, that's causing a little bit of discomfort in the traditional world because they are not used to ads having to sort be accepted by the user.

But the Web is an interactive technology, it allows you to interact and choose. We believe that it its better put the control in the hands of the user as that ensures a higher probability that the user will stick with you.

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