In the space of just a few short years, Google knocked Microsoft off its throne to become arguably the world's most powerful - possibly the most feared - technology company with involvement in a vast array of different areas. The company describes its mission as "to develop services that significantly improve the lives of as many people as possible". To that end it has built upon its core offering to spin out a kaleidoscope of additional services, ranging from global mapping and Android mobile software to healthcare research and driverless cars. Uniquely, for now at least, virtually all its add-ons are free to use, paid for by the awe-inspiring success of the company's advertising programme. Google may not be the world's biggest online company by revenues (that's still Amazon) but it's the most valuable by far with a market value of over $460bn by mid 2015. Yet Google's position at the top of the digital advertising tree is under threat from an even faster-growing business, Facebook. At the same time, its steps into hardware development have so far been patchy. In 2011, the group took steps to monetise Android by acquiring one of its first licensors, US handset manufacturer Motorola. Less than two years later, though, it sold that business on to Lenovo of China after failing to boost performance. Its Google Glass computer-powered eyewear also failed to find a ready audience. In 2015, the group announced plans to restructure, splitting out its more fanciful research-based operations as separate units under the umbrella of new parent company Alphabet Inc.
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Adbrands Company Profiles provide a detailed analysis of the history and current operations of leading advertisers, agencies and brands worldwide, and include a critical summary which identifies key strengths and weaknesses. Adbrands Account Assignments tracks account management for the world's leading brands and companies, including details of which advertising agency handles which accounts in which countries for major markets. Subscribers may access the following website links:
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Adbrands Weekly Update 8th Mar 2018: Ads of the Week "Make Google Do It". Google has launched a big push for its AI virtual assistant, signing up a bunch of star names to deliver little self-deprecating cameos. John Legend, Sia and Kevin Durant also get great separate spots of their own, tackling different every day problems. (Sia's is especially good: see the other spots over at our Facebook page). What makes this concept - developed inhouse at Google Creative Lab - so great is its gently self-mocking humour. Stars have all the same problems we do, just on a bigger scale.
Adbrands Weekly Update 15th Feb 2018: Unilever CMO Keith Weed - recently named as the World Federation of Advertisers' Global Marketer of the Year 2017 - threw down the gauntlet to the social media industry, warning that it will reduce advertising on Facebook, YouTube and other such sites unless they do more to combat fake news and divisive content. "We will prioritize investing only in responsible platforms that are committed to creating a positive impact in society," he told an IAB conference in California. "Social media should build social responsibility." He acknowledged that most sites have taken "meaningful" steps towards combating hate-based content over the past year, but that more needs to be done, especially in relation to content that is likely to be seen by children. That view is shared by other major advertisers, not least AT&T which has still not returned to YouTube almost a year after it suspended advertising over its proximity to hate-based content. That furore erupted in March last year following an investigation by The Times newspaper in London that revealed that ads from blue-chip advertisers were being displayed regularly alongside extremist videos on YouTube and on the websites of neo-nazi, homophobic, Islamic terrorist and other hate groups.
This week, YouTube suspended advertising on channels operated by vlogger Logan Paul, who became notorious earlier this year for showing a dead body in a video shot in a notorious Japanese suicide forest. Despite a stern warning from YouTube, there were two more incidents this month, in which he tasered a dead rat and encouraged his 16m followers to "do the Tide Pods challenge" (in other words, eat a Tide detergent capsule). "After careful consideration, we have decided to temporarily suspend ads on Logan Paul's YouTube channels," said YouTube. "This is not a decision we made lightly. However, we believe he has exhibited a pattern of behaviour in his videos that makes his channel not only unsuitable for advertisers, but also potentially damaging to the broader creator community." Separately, this week, Facebook began testing a new "downvote" option - the closest it is ever likely to get to a "dislike" button - in which users can mark content or comments as "offensive", "misleading" or "off topic".
Adbrands Weekly Update 8th Feb 2018: Google parent Alphabet Inc took a 4Q charge of almost $10bn in connection with tax reforms, resulting in a $3.0bn loss for the quarter (compared to a $5.3bn profit for the year-ago period). However, otherwise, performance remained strong, with final quarter revenues topping $30bn for the first time. It was the company's 32nd consecutive quarter of revenue increase in excess of 20%. Though advertising continues to supply the bulk of revenues, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said its cloud computing division now generates more than $1bn of revenues per quarter. For the year, Alphabet's revenues surged 23% to $110.9bn. That 4Q tax hit, and a previously reported provision of $2.7bn for litigation with the EU over shopping comparison services, caused net income to slide by a third to $12.7bn. Excluding those exceptional items, operating income was up around 22% year-on-year, although one area of concern was an increase in expenses, especially traffic acquisition costs, which are the fees it pays to partners to promote its search services. Those rose by a third, and now account for almost a quarter of ad revenues. The number of ad clicks is still rising - up 43% in the final quarter - but revenues per ad click are falling, down 14% in the final quarter.
Adbrands Weekly Update 4th Jan 2018: Eric Schmidt is to step down as executive chairman of Google parent Alphabet Inc, though he will remain a member of the board. He was appointed as CEO of Google in 2001 to - as the New York Times put it - "provide what amounted to adult supervision for the company’s young founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin". As they became more adept at managing the business, he was promoted to executive chairman in 2011. The group is expected to appoint a new non-executive chairman.
Adbrands Weekly Update 21st Dec 2017: Ads of the Week: "Year In Search 2017". What a year it's been! And still two weeks to go. Let's hope there's nothing too important still to be added to this fine round-up of the past 11 and a half months of Google searches from 72andSunny and Google Brand Studio. It serves as a fitting memorial to the many terrible events that have taken place, but ends with an upbeat message of hope. How indeed do we move forward?
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