My Day at Think with Google

On Tuesday 7th July I attended Think With Google at The Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London.

It was for Google at least: “one of our showpiece events of the year bringing together top business leaders and marketers for a morning of inspiring content and conversation on the role of digital in modern businesses.”

Well I turned up too thanks to an invitation from an old colleague who is now marketing products at Google. For me, it was a good excuse to leave the North for a couple of days to enjoy the Metropolis.

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Marshalled by a Wimbledon-attired Google executive, bouncing tennis balls into the audience with the promise of a prize, we were set up for a day of Google-selling from which they didn’t disappoint.

My second-favourite ‘performance’ was from Dr Hannah Fry (@FryRsquared), a confident, impressive speaker who tried to convince us of the mathematics of love and did a great job at demonstrating how not to set up a dating profile using statistics but also shared the useless yet interesting fact from Google Search history that the most searched for phrase last year was indeed ‘What is Love?’

From Appliances Online (, we heard from the CEO John Roberts.  He echoed the principles of Banc Media when he stated that they always start with the Customers when thinking about data.  The solution comes from understanding how to improve customer service.  He mad a lot of sense culminating in his best line, and I paraphrase slightly from memory “It’s no good having a successful operation if the patient ends up dead”.

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One of the buzz phrases of the day (and there were many) was “programmatic”, which is I understand it, the buying of media through technology.  Automated systems, driven by data and engineering that might improve the end result.  This leads me nicely on to the next speaker, Mark Curtis from Fjord (aka Accenture Interactive).

I was impressed with the cut of his jib as he eloquently spoke about the flexibility businesses needed to bring to the modern media environment until he then suggested that brands need to “atomise”.  A use of a philosophical term that may need some further explanation for the uninitiated!

And so came the onslaught of the buzz phrases: not least “winning the moments that matter”, which of course you can do with Google Mobile, apparently.  But through the jungle of jargon came some good ideas, not least Trueview for shopping that lets customers buy straight from a how-do video.

Furthermore, we learned of the upcoming release of measurement of Google users that start on mobile/desktop and complete in-app.  There was a lot of excitement about in-app collaboration too for example combining Uber with Hilton to book your room and taxi from the station at the same time without having to leave apps.

Jonathan Alferness (Product Management VP), flown in from California was the slick salesman who never deviated neither from his presentation, nor message and left us with these final notes:

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Geraldine Caplin was up next from Hilton presenting “opening doors and closing sales”, a rather clunky title that was quickly forgotten once the rather charismatic and believable but with a similarly clunkier title “SVP and global head of Digital for Hilton Worldwide” got going.

Indeed we learned from an excited presenter that Hilton allows you to choose your actual room during booking utilising Google Street View technology whilst in App and that they will soon roll out the just as clunky titled hotel-door-opening-from-mobile service.

And finally, the single most impressive performance of the day as the inimitable, talented, charismatic and simply gorgeous 9 year old Alma Deustcher took the very apt setting of the stage of The Royal Opera House to mesmerise us with her own composed version of the Cinderella story as an opera.  She played piano, violin and sung with the skill of a veteran and told us stories of her talent and experience.  I wonder what she might achieve by the time she is 10!


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Image sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credit: Robert Scoble