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[interview] Google: ‘our scale carries great responsibility’

Diana van Roest (photo) says to go through life whistling, with a passion for friends and family, traveling, running and tennis, cooking and theater. After fifteen years of marketing in the international hotel industry, she switched to a year ago Google, to work together with the Dutch travel industry on partnerships that contribute to the realization of strategic business and marketing objectives. This is often done through digital marketing transformation. She is now the first Dutch female Director at Google Netherlands.

The marketing discipline has her special preference. ‘For me, understanding the ever-changing customer and consumer behavior and creating long-term value for companies is the heart of marketing. It is essential for every management to have this high on the agenda, to build the right teams and to sharpen visions. It makes me very happy if I can contribute to this for Google and its partners, ‘says Van Roest.

What are the effects of the pandemic on your company? More traffic, other searches?
‘We see effects on many fronts. Two examples:
1. We saw that in recent weeks Google Meet, the video conferencing solution for G Suite, helping millions of people stay connected. We reached a new milestone just over a week ago, with over 2 million new users connecting to Google Meet every day. Users spend more than 2 billion minutes on Meet together – that’s more than 3,800 years of safe meetings in one day.
2. The online search behavior also shows clear shifts. Traditionally, the weather has always been in the top list of searches. Since February 25, 2020, however, the Netherlands is looking more for information about the coronavirus than for the weather, for example, for the symptoms, how the virus originated and what the latest status is with regard to the number of infections. But that is now changing again: since Easter, the interest and the number of searches for the weather has roughly equaled the number for corona. So it is slowly becoming more interesting for many to search for the weather than for corona information. ‘

We recently read that Google is helping to fight corona through a system that can monitor a third of the world’s population. Please explain.
“Through close collaboration with developers, governments and healthcare providers, we hope to harness the power of technology to help countries around the world slow the spread of the corona virus and accelerate the return of everyday life.
Google and Apple have partnered to enable the use of Bluetooth technology to help governments and health authorities reduce the spread of the virus, putting user privacy and security at the heart of the design.
Because the virus can be transmitted through the proximity of infected individuals, health organizations have identified contact tracing as a valuable tool to help control its spread. Privacy, transparency and user consent are paramount and we look forward to building this functionality in consultation with interested stakeholders. ”

Can you share some general figures about Google to get an idea of ​​the market position in the Netherlands and worldwide?
Worldwide, there are nine products with more than a billion users: Search, YouTube, Maps, Chrome, Android, Play Store, Gmail, Drive and Photos.
For example, YouTube is visited by more than 2 billion logged-in users every month. Every day, more than a billion hours of videos are watched and about 500 hours of video are uploaded per minute. We publish annually which videos are best viewed in the Netherlands. In 2019 we watched a wide range of videos on YouTube, but one thing the top 10 had in common: everything came from the Netherlands. In the list of music videos, eight out of ten songs were from Dutch soil. What stood out in the top 10 of the most watched YouTube videos was also the relatively large number of traditional media in the list. Among other PowNed, RTL News, NOS Youth News and Ziggo Sport were in the top 10 of 2019. ‘

In the meantime, the innovations also continue at Google, such as Live View at Maps (AR) and development of Timeline on maps. Can you report more innovations?
“At the moment, our primary focus is on helping users, companies and government agencies navigate these uncertain times. Every day new initiatives are being developed in this area, from online training for SMEs to the publication of reports to provide insight into what has changed in response to social distancing policies, using aggregated, anonymized data to identify trends in movements within map communities.
At the same time, other innovations will continue as usual and new services and products will be introduced. For example, in the past few weeks we have, for example TalkBack Braille keyboard introduced, a new virtual braille keyboard integrated directly into Android. Within products, we also continue to innovate, such as Google Maps where you can now see the speed limits, and the Google’s Art & Culture app, which recently offers Art Transfer (transforming selfies and photos into a well-known work of art, ed.).
In the meantime, we are also further developing our services. For example, in the Netherlands we recently collaborated with Bureau Youth & Media and Safer Internet Center The Internet Heroes introduced, a curriculum for educators, parents and students aged 12-15 on digital citizenship and security online. ”

Why would marketers want to do business with you, in other words what can Google Netherlands mean for brands?
“At the moment, the most important thing is that companies have the resources they need to get through this uncertain time and we want to help them as much as possible. We offer help for companies on a number of axes, namely financial, with tools such as Measure, with training on online marketing and digital working and with tips and consumer insights.
Today, it’s more important than ever to get your online visibility in order and find alternative ways to stay in touch with your customer. We can help with that, not only in terms of advertising, but also with ours, for example Digital Workshop training, with Google My Business and also, for example, by offering the opportunity for shops and restaurants to enter Google Maps quickly adjust things such as delivery, pick-up, adjusted shopping times, etc. In addition, we have $ 340 million for SMEs worldwide Ads Credits made available. They are delivered to all worldwide small and medium active advertisers (who have advertised in the past year, ed.). Advertisers will be notified in their Google Adsaccount to inform them of the advertising credit they can use to increase their visibility and connect with customers. “

It is said that “tech giants” -The Big 9- get too much power. Agree? How does Google remain responsible?
Nine of our products and services have more than a billion users every year. That scale carries great responsibility – not just to do the right thing, but to do things that really matter. We also know that many people and companies depend on the internet to make a living. We only succeed if others succeed.
Our products and innovations must have a positive impact on the world, whether it’s people who use our services in their daily lives, small businesses who use them to find new customers, or news publishers who want to succeed in this digital age.
For example, we know that A.I. has a significant impact on society and has therefore developed a set of principles to guide our innovations – testing them for safety, avoiding algorithms that cause unfair bias and mitigating harmful or offensive applications.
We can only do well if consumers trust us. That trust is based on three things:
1. giving people access to high-quality information,
2. protect their privacy, and
3. protect them online. “

Do you have any exciting things for the end of the year?
‘That will of course remain a surprise, but this year 2020 users can also expect many innovations, new services and products from us. Both technologies and customer needs are developing and changing quickly and we want to stay ahead in this. You mentioned yourself, for example Live View in Maps; We will also be adding new capabilities to Live View in the coming months that will help you get to your destination even faster. ”

Does everyone also work at home at Google right now? Goes well?
“Most people at Google currently work from home, and that is fine. Since we work a lot internationally with colleagues and customers, a lot of use has already been made of Google Meet and that has only increased. But there is also room for relaxation, for example through virtual lunches with colleagues and fitness and wellbeing sessions using video.
In our data centers, such as the data center in Eemshaven, work continues as normal. The data centers are fully operational worldwide and that is one of the parts for which people still do hands-on have to work. Our primary focus is to always ensure the safety of our employees while maintaining all services to all our customers. ”

How do you stay inspired and fit these months? Nice tips for other marketers?
‘It is wonderful to use the two hours saved per day to make my ten kilometers easier to walk. I fully enjoy my tour through the Maximapark in Utrecht with the running app, an hour on the elliptical cross trainer and walking through the neighborhood. Moving outside helps me observe, makes me think and leads to new ideas.
I thought I’d have plenty of time to read more, listen to more podcasts, discuss more … the opposite is true. Our customers and partners now more than ever need collaboration, our insights and solutions to contribute to the acute disruption their company has often faced. It’s a great feeling if our teams can contribute to that. ”

Any other ‘hot’ Google news you want to share?
Marketers, use the free Google tools to understand consumer behavior and learn new skills! There is still so much unused. My personal top 4:
1. Check our special Coronavirus Search trends page with information about how Dutch people search in relation to the coronavirus. Or get started with Google Trends: a powerful tool that helps you find the data you need to navigate current disruptions to your business.
2. Google Academy on Air (learning from home) – video series hosted by experts
3. Think with Google Benelux: tips, tools and consumer insights
4. Google’s Digital workplace online: Webinars and online coaching for SMEs and self-employed persons

OK thank you.

text: Peter van Woensel Kooy

Diana van Roest, sales director at Google Netherlands

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