Advertising Execs Speak Up on Google's Manhattan Move

By Steve Bryant  |  Posted 2006-09-20 Print this article Print

Google moved to take advantage of 111 8th Avenue's fiber optic connections. But advertising execs say the move makes cultural sense, too.

In the midst of its biggest expansion into advertising markets yet, the world's most popular search engine recently decamped from the pedestrian confines of its Time Square office into 311,000 square feet of space at 111 8th Avenue, a hulking building across from Chelsea Market and the Maritime Hotel.

The move, scheduled to be completed late this month or early next, isn't just to appease the Googlers, who, like most rational humans, despise midtown. Their new Manhattan headquarters is one of the most connected buildings in North America. According to sources familiar with the building's facilities, all data that travels over high speed cables in the United States flows through 111 8th Avenue.

In the eyes of technologists, that's reason enough to move into the building. But Google is also expanding rapidly, and they're hiring for over 100 new positions in the city. Half of those positions are in advertising-related jobs.

And much like traditional ad agencies operate in neighborhoods that reflect their culture -- Mother in Soho, Saatchi and Saatchi in the West Village --  Google's new Chelsea office separates it from its corporate rivals while allowing more room for its boisterous, wonky culture.

"As long as Google puts up great numbers, advertisers will be intrigued. Google entices Madison Avenue because they compete with the networks and cable companies and everyone else in an ingenious manner," said Hayes Roth, chief marketing officer for Landor, which counted Google among its top ten breakaway brands in 2005. "But they've evolved from a simple search directory to an advertising medium. So from that perspective the move to Chelsea makes total sense."

Gene Lewis, a partner at Digital Pulp, said that the Googlers he works with are excited about the move.

"This is all about fitting Google's personality into New York. Their midtown office was in the middle of hell," he said, referring to 1440 Broadway, the still-official address of Google in New York. "Now they're trying to find themselves culturally. They want very much not to appear the bastard child of advertising, which for a long time is what the Web has been."

Google has certainly been less the bastard child than the darling of the ad world in recent years.

According to eMarketer, the search engine has captured 56.7 percent of search share. That's a powerful advantage in the $16.7 billion online advertising market, where 42.5 percent of all online ad spending goes toward paid search and contextual ads, Google's bread and butter.

The company is making moves in offline markets as well. Google recently signed an advertising deal with XM Satellite Radio, is testing mobile ads on cell phones and has made no secret of its plans to move into television advertisements.

It's also a bit of historical irony -- not to be lost on those who keep an eye on Google's burgeoning revenue -- that 111 8th Avenue was formerly home to one of the largest paper check processing centers in Manhattan.

Rob Moorman, chief marketing officer for Saatchi and Saatchi, agreed that Google was always a topic of conversation among advertisers. He noted that another of the world's premier advertising firms, Deutsche, was also located in Google's building.

"If everything you read about [Google] is true," he said, "then pretty soon all the ad agencies in New York are going to want to move down to Chelsea just to be near them." |

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