Google : Alphabet Inc : advertising & marketing profile

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Google is the world's most powerful technology company, wholly dominating the connected environment, not just in search but also, via YouTube, in video sharing and, through Android, in mobile communications. Its main global challenger is probably Facebook, but for now Google remains comfortably ahead. The company has two missions in life: firstly to "organise the world's information and make it universally accessible" and more recently "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 mobile software to what it calls "other bets" such as healthcare research, driverless cars and even balloon-powered internet in rural Africa. To support its diversification and perhaps also blur a little of the relentless focus on its core search business, it created new umbrella company Alphabet Inc in 2015. Yet it is Google which still generates all but a tiny proportion of corporate revenues. 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. The search business rakes in more than 40% of all global digital advertising expenditure. Yet Google's position at the top of the digital advertising tree is under threat from Facebook (20% and rising of online adex) and even increasingly from Amazon. Google has attempted to broaden its reach by moving into hardware - primarily mobile handsets and Chromebook PCs - but results have been patchy. In 2011, it took steps to monetise Android by acquiring one of its first licensors, US handset manufacturer Motorola, but that experiment failed and the business was sold on two years to Lenovo of China. More recently it acquired a large chunk of contract manufacturer HTC, makers of its Nexus and Pixel handsets, to bring handset development inhouse again, but market share is tiny compared to Samsung and Apple. A big push into self-driving cars through "other bet" Waymo holds more promise, but it's still early days and this too is an increasingly crowded sector with many deep-pocketed companies jostling for a share of the market. Another small but interesting sideline is the Nest home automation business, acquired in 2017. But for now search advertising still dominates Alphabet's business model. Group revenues rose by almost a quarter in 2018 to $136.8bn - of which more than 85% was from search advertising - while net income more than doubled to a record $30.7bn. Founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page continue to hold majority control of the business; Page is CEO of Alphabet with Brin as president. The key Google devision is led by CEO Sundar Pichai.

Capsule checked 29th June 2019

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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.

Historical profile information for Google

Recent stories from Adbrands Update:

Adbrands Daily Update 13th Sep 2019: Alphabet agreed to pay $1bn to settle a four-year dispute with the French government over alleged under-payment of taxes owed by its local subsidiary in that country. The US company will pay €465m in undeclared back taxes as well as a fine of €500m. It has already settled similar disputes with tax regulators in the UK and Italy.

Adbrands Daily Update 18th Jun 2019: Alphabet's inhouse Google Creative Lab was among the first winners in this year's Cannes Lions festival. The technology giant collected the Grand Prix in Design for its innovative "Creatability" project, which designs special accessible creative tools for people with disabilities.

Adbrands Daily Update 11th Jun 2019: Amazon was named King of the Castle for the first time in the latest annual Brandz ranking of the World's Most Valuable Brands from WPP's Kantar. A 52% increase lifted the etailer's estimated valuation to $316bn, pushing past three-year champion Google and 2015 leader Apple, who took 3rd and 2nd place respectively. Microsoft held steady at #4 while Visa replaced Tencent in 5th place. The only new entry among the top 50 was Chanel, straight in at #31. Biggest risers were Instagram, Lululemon and Netflix.

Adbrands Daily Update 6th Jun 2019: Google announced the acquisition of Looker Data Sciences, which makes software for corporate analytics and business intelligence, for $2.6bn. It is the search giant's 4th biggest purchase of all time by price (behind Motorola, Nest and DoubleClick) but the most significant to-date for its Google Cloud division, which hopes to narrow the currently vast gulf that separates it from cloud computing leaders Amazon and Microsoft. Analysts estimate revenues of around $6.3bn for Google Cloud in 2018, around a quarter of the sum Amazon's AWS division generated.

Adbrands Daily Update 21st May 2019: The most serious blow to-date to Huawei from its battle with the US government is Google's announcement that it will block the company from receiving new versions of the full Android operating system, used in virtually all its handsets. That follows on from the government's addition of Huawei to its "Entity List" ban, prohibiting US companies from selling technology to the Chinese business without a specific license. Current users will not be affected, but Huwaei will potentially be banned from using the full version of the next "Q" iteration of Android, due in August. The company will still be able to use the simplified open source version. Shortly after Google's announcement, the government issued a temporary reprieve to allow US companies more time to arrange their affairs but the ban is still expected to come into force by mid-summer. Several other companies have subsequently joined Google in boycott including Intel, ARM, Qualcomm and Panasonic.

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