I just had the great privilege to listen to some Google folks explaining some of the do’s and don’ts of making money out of web-publishing – something that Flight Group’s ultimate owners – Reed Elsevier – are rather keen on. They addressed the UK Association of Online Publishers, which organises some terrific little events like that.
Being from Google they were all aged about 13, absolutely charming, and with more university degrees than you could shake a stick at (as we say in Britain.)
They’re also wonderfully self-effacing. Brian Axe, a Californian who’s “product manager for Adsense for content business” (so in fact Google titles are just as dire as every other big company’s) was explaining the cool stuff they’re doing via mobile devices - like instantly translating foreign languages.
He related how he had just visited Paris with colleagues and found himself in a nice restaurant trying to understand if they should add a tip or not. The guidance was on the menu, but in French. And French to Californians…well it just doesn’t work.
So they sent the French guidance to Google via PDA or cellphone or whatever and instantly got told that “service compris” meant they didn’t have to cough up any cash.
Without a trace of irony, Brian explained: “So we didn’t look like dorks…well, we did look like dorks because we were doing searches at the dinner table…but we didn’t look like dweebs who didn’t know if we should tip.” And, honest, these people are really smart!