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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Google leaders voice optimism about AdWords, autos

Published By Crain's Detroit Business

Continuity is the watchword these days at Google Inc.'s two metro Detroit offices, each of which has a recently installed leader.

“You're going to see a lot of the same. We remain strongly committed to the community with our involvement in programs like AdWords in the Curriculum,” said Mike Miller, the new head of operations for Google's 250-person operation in downtown Ann Arbor that services more than 10,000 Michigan businesses.

The curriculum program pairs Google Grant recipients — usually nonprofits — with students who run their online AdWords program.

Google Ann Arbor Re-OrgnizesMiller and Michelle Morris, Google's new automotive national sales manager, who's based in Birmingham, were made available to reporters Thursday.

Miller, a Grosse Pointe Farms native, returns to Michigan after two and a half years at the Mountain View, Calif.-based search engine giant's corporate headquarters. He also spent six years at Cisco Systems in San Jose.

He replaced Grady Burnett, who led Google Inc.'s advertising operation in Ann Arbor until being poached recently by Palo Alto, Calif.-based social media giant Facebook.com to run its global online and inside sales.

The Ann Arbor office is one of several AdWords operations around the world. It opened three years ago to much fanfare and promises of 1,000 new jobs within five years, but the economic slowdown has stalled that.

“We don't make forward-looking statements. We remain committed to (Ann Arbor). Our business will grow as the AdWords grows and as Google grows overall. Our hiring has never been linear. So we do see fluctuations. Our hope is that the business continues to grow and we grow with that,” Miller said.

Google received an estimated $38 million, 20-year Single Business Tax abatement from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. in return for creating 1,000 jobs over five years.

President Mary Sue Coleman (right) and Vice President of Student Affairs E. Royster Harper (left) meet with Grady Burnett, former director of online sales at Google Ann Arbor, during a tour of the company's Ann Arbor office.Failure to reach the hiring target means Google will earn less of the incentive.

AdWords is the pay-per-click search term-based advertising system that accounted for about 95 percent of Google's $21 billion in 2008 revenue.

The company didn't offer a specific number but said that it has “hundreds of thousands” of AdWords users.

Although publicly held, the company doesn't divulge how much of its revenue is generated by specific offices or what it calls verticals, such as automotive or retail clients.

“(Ann Arbor) is one of our critical operations. This is one of our biggest (AdWords) operations,” Miller said. “It continues to be a healthy office and a healthy business for us.”

Net income the first three months of this year was $1.42 billion on revenue of $5.51 billion, an increase of 8 percent profit and 6 percent revenue growth over the same quarter of 2008.

The Ann Arbor office operates out of leased space on two floors of the McKinley Towne Centre on East Liberty Street at Division Street, and there are no plans to build a permanent Google-only office.

Morris, who took over as head of auto sales six weeks ago after previously running just the Midwest division, said Google believes automotive is a growth sector despite the industry's downturn.

The search engine, which previously ran its auto operations out of New York and maintains 65 percent of the total online search market, works directly with the Detroit 3 and their advertising and digital marketing agencies, and all of them invest heavily in the analytics that measure the effectiveness of their Google campaigns, she said.