Google on disruption and looking over your shoulder to the guy in the garage

Speaking as part of the Fast Company Disruptors panel at Advertising Week Europe 2014, Google said constant, unrelenting change was just essential or you fall behind.

The Google Lounge at Advertising Week Europe 2014
The Google Lounge at Advertising Week Europe 2014

"We don’t go out to be a disruptive business," said Mark Howe, managing director for agency sales at Google. "But we’re changing the rules all the time because the world is constantly changing.

"In Google Labs, those guys are constantly thinking about the future, they’re geniuses. We’re all constantly thinking into the future, rather than thinking incrementally. If you’re only incremental then you’re falling behind immediately."

Howe said that last year Google made 1,100 changes to its search business. "You’ve got to be working fast - if not [the next big thing] will come from someone’s garage and take over.

"You have to keep running, you can’t slow down and be complacent. Complacency about change will be the death of companies," added Howe.

A lot of folks are trying to think about what’s going to be big in the future - we think about what’s never going to change

Also sharing the stage was MediaCom and Amazon.

Amazon EU advertising director Dan Wright said disruption through invention was the role of the brand, not the consumer. "Every morning you wake up and there is more you can do for consumers. You’re never done - that forces change."

Wright said that for Amazon invention was about looking at what’s happening now and what consumer needs will not change.

"A lot of folks are trying to think about what’s going to be big in the future; we think about what’s never going to change. So that’s better prices, better selection and convenience. We then invent and innovate on those dimensions," said Wright.

MediaCom’s managing director, Claudine Collins, said that the key issue in the debate among the biggest influencers in the market today, such as Sir Martin Sorrell and Sheryl Sandberg, was speed.

"Speed is so important. It’s far better to do something 90% on a Monday than 100% on a Friday," she said.

Google’s Howe added that it wasn’t all about tech start-ups disrupting the market. "ITV has gone from being the behemoth everyone hated to the darling of media - now it’s almost ‘reverse disruption’. TV is brilliant and is probably in a stronger place now than it was 10 years ago."

He believed that phrases like "early adopters" is now "old language" - "it’s about any adopters". "We’re now asking ‘are you ready for mobile?’. Everyone has a mobile and 70% are smartphones. About 2.5bn are online globally, and the next 2.5bn will be online on mobile."

Follow live coverage of Advertising Week Europe on LIVE@AdvertisingWeek

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