Though they 'officially' opened their Ann Arbor offices last May, Google Adwords has been laying its tracks in SE Michigan for a year now. Currently employing more than 150 people at the A2 office (with plans to reach 1000 in five years), the company has settled in and made itself a part of the community... even going so far as to teach classes at the local high school.
If that were evidence enough of their commitment to SE Michigan, the companies Detroit office has been servicing the auto industry for the last 5 years and recently moved to a small office in downtown Birmingham.
For the next week Metromode's guest blogger feature will be taken over by five members of the Ann Arbor Adwords office. They'll be relating their thoughts and experiences about moving here and where they see going in the future.
Things kick off with Grady Burnett who is the Head of Online Sales and Operations at Google Adwords, Ann Arbor.
Tomorrow Karen Godwin (Manager, Online Sales and Operations) will talk about relocating from San Francisco to Michigan and why it was the right move.
Monday Team Leader Matthew Neagle write about Google's community outreach and impact.
Tuesday brings us Michael Anuzis, Google's Relationship Manager, who will tell us about how Googles applications for education are interfacing with local institutions.
And we round things out with John Kelley (Manager, Online Sales and Operations), who will be writing about local businesses that have seen success implementing Google's Adwords.
As always, feel free to JOIN THE CONVERSATION WITH YOUR COMMENTS!
Photographs by Marvin Shaouni
Looking Beyond Search
When someone thinks of Google they think of web search... and that's a good thing. After all web search is the foundation upon which Google is built as well as the glue that ties it all together.
But there is much more to Google than search and few people seem to realize that. When I talk to people about Google I often ask how many Google products they use (how many do you use?). The majority say one or two and almost no one admits to using more than seven. In fact there are numerous products produced by Google: Google Maps, YouTube, Gmail, Picasa, Google Reader, Earth, Calendar, Orkut, Google News alerts, Blogger... oh, and let's not forget Google AdWords, the primary focus of our operations here in Michigan! The list goes on and on.
But like many of the people I talk to, before coming to work at Google I hadn't considered the power of these applications and, in particular, the power of bringing these applications together to solve real business problems. Oh... and did I mention that the vast majority of these products and services are free? Crazy.
In this Corner...
The undisputed heavy-weight champion of these second-class citizens has to be Google Apps. A collection of powerful communication, productivity, collaboration and security tools including email, calendaring, word processing and spreadsheets. There are versions for schools, businesses large and small and, as of early February, even a "team edition" for groups of any size.
Like many Google products, these services are all available right from the browser. This means there is no hardware to buy, no software to install, no patches to manage (what version of Gmail are you running?).
Apps tools scale with your business and work across platforms, including mobile devices. Software updates happen auto-magically and Google takes care of backing up all the information. All this gives you more time and money to focus on running your business. Sweet!
But what about the all of the other applications offered by Google? What if an organization embraced the full suite of Google products and services? What if you could "start over" and shed your existing IT infrastructure and use Google's products instead?
Rather than ask "What if?" an enterprising non-profit based in Washtenaw County decided to roll-up its sleeves and put the power of Google's products to use. CASA Washtenaw is a non-profit with the mission of creating awareness and providing support for neglected children under the jurisdiction of the Washtenaw County Court. The organization is comprised of a handful of volunteers (with one full-time staff member).
Before embarking on this mission of technical transformation they had a very basic website built on a template offered by their hosting provider. They had some pressing objectives that needed to be tackled such as improved collaboration amongst the volunteers and board members, fund raising, promotion/awareness, communication, recruitment and board governance. It seemed that Google could help.
Putting the pieces together
Their first step was to sign up for a (free) Google Apps account and to take advantage of the included Page Creator application to create a new web site. Through a creative use of Google Gadgets they were able to add flair to their site as well as make sure that the content on the site stayed fresh.
To create awareness for their organization, they drove traffic via a Google AdWords campaign and created a blog that they linked to their site. As a member of a national organization, they had access to some high-quality videos and with a few clicks the CASA Washtenaw YouTube channelwas born! The team at CASA Washtenaw created a Google Checkout account so that they could receive donations online (with free transaction processing for non-profits through the end of 2009!).
When they partnered with the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority on a fund raising event (Rock the CASA!) it only made sense to use Google Checkout allow folks to buy tickets online. A printed email receipt served as the admission ticket for the concert-goers.
To keep interested parties apprised of upcoming activities, Google Calendar was embedded into the events page of their site. To add an event to the web site, CASA Washtenaw members need only create a new calendar entry on Google Calendar (part of Google Apps) and the event is automatically published to the web site.
For up-to-the-minute news, CASA Washtenaw turned to the power of RSS. They first searched Google News for information related directly to their cause then used Google Reader to subscribed to the specific RSS feed. Because Google Reader has the ability to create a gadget that can be included directly into a web site, the folks at CASA Washtenaw don't have to worry about updating the news section of their site. Instead, viewers of their site are presenting with timely, relevant information making the site more professional while letting the folks at CASA Washtenaw focus their attention on other matters.
Google strongly supports individuals getting involved in community organizations and Casa Washtenaw’s enthusiasm to see what could be possible with Google’s tools inspired me to volunteer as an internal resource for the organization. Although Google tools are easy to use, I was able to serve as a sounding board for Casa Washtenaw’s internal team when they needed a second opinion. It was exciting to watch their online presence evolve as they realized the potential visibility, functionality and organizational benefits of using online tools.
How many different ways could Google's non-search products help your company/organization/team/family? As more people migrate to the web and as web-based tools and services become more advanced it seems inevitable that the power and flexibility of Google tools will be discovered and embraced in increasing numbers. But the tools are available now and can have a huge impact for you today! So go ahead, kick the tires and think of the possibilities.
Michael Anuzis (Relationship Manager) is responsible for providing strategic consulting for Google advertisers that target business and industrial markets. He also serves as a mentor for the Ann Arbor AdWords team, and provides advanced support for Google Analytics. Prior to Google, Michael established an entrepreneurial startup while completing his degree at the University of Michigan. His company, 2Core Inc, provided managed network security services to small and mid-sized businesses and state government. Michael, a graduate of the University of Michigan, has lived in Michigan his entire life, and is glad Google opened an office here.
Making an Impact: Google Apps for Education Can Propel Michigan’s High Tech Future
Making an impact is a common theme at Google. Through our AdWords product, which is the central focus of our Ann Arbor operations, we make an impact with customers who are seeking a measurable return on investment online. Through Google Cares and other community-centric efforts, we make an impact in the community. Finding ways to make an impact is encouraged and celebrated throughout Google.
For me, helping colleges and universities harness the power of Google’s Apps for Education is an exciting way to make a real impact. Google Apps can save schools upwards of $300,000 each year while providing students with enhanced communication and collaboration tools.
Yet, Google Apps is completely free to educational institutions, so we don’t have a large sales team actively promoting it. Reaching out to colleges and universities to raise awareness and answer questions seemed like a great way to make an impact.
The management team in Ann Arbor encouraged me to explore this opportunity and provided the resources I needed to make an impact in the educational space. I was able to connect with other Ann Arbor Googlers who shared my enthusiasm for helping educational institutions throughout Michigan, and together, we rallied around the idea of bringing Google’s Apps for Education to Michigan in a meaningful way.
The result of our collaboration and brainstorming: Several months ago, Google’s Ann Arbor office became the first to host an open house for colleges and universities to talk with them about Apps for Education. This event, organized by a team of Googlers who wanted to support the adoption of powerful online tools throughout the state, was designed to show the impact Apps for Education can have on an educational institution and provide a forum for IT professionals at various colleges and universities to share best practices.
The event was a success in so many ways. IT professionals from Michigan colleges picked our brains and learned how Google Apps tools can help students collaborate on a project, keep track of their calendars and benefit from a large e-mail storage quota.
The Google team learned about the challenges these professionals face in delivering technology to campuses throughout the state: Small IT departments make implementing any new products or services a challenge, and budgets often drive decision-making, sometimes at the expense of the opportunity to be an early adopter of technology.
Since the open house, and in preparation for our second open house that will be held in late February, with schools from around the Midwest participating. I’ve spent time following up with these colleges and reaching out to even more. To date, a number of Michigan colleges and universities, including Hope College, Aquinas College and Kalamazoo Community College, have saved money and resources with Google Apps for Education – a measurable impact we’re having on education in Michigan.
It’s fulfilling to see the results of hard work and effort and to know that educators and students are benefiting. As Google, and Googlers, continue to support these types of initiatives throughout the state, the impact of our efforts will grow. Ultimately, it’s Michigan colleges and universities that win, providing students with valuable resources through the adoption of leading edge tools.
Matthew Neagle (Team Lead) worked with Google in both California and India before moving to Ann Arbor as part of the original landing team. In Ann Arbor, he is currently focused on initiatives in training, recruitment, and community outreach. Prior to Google, Matthew worked for nearly 8 years for AIESEC, a global nonprofit focused on providing leadership and work abroad opportunities for college students and recent graduates. Matthew was President of AIESCE's national office in Panama and was a Director of Operations in Latin America at the global headquarters in the Netherlands. He grew up in Saginaw, Mich. and graduated from the University of Michigan in 2001 with a B.A. in Latin American Studies and a B.S.E. in Industrial and Operations Engineering.
Google & the Community: Helping Michigan in the New Economy
Google's efforts to be a good corporate citizen have been as innovative and bold as its products, whether it be setting up the largest corporate solar panel installation in the world, setting aside $2 billion to Google.org to fight climate change, poverty, and health issues at a global level, or donating money on behalf of employees who self-power commute to work each day.
Google Ann Arbor is also committed to playing its part and has become a role model within Google for its efforts.
To start, our employees are our greatest resource in giving back to the community. We are fortunate to hire people who are civic-minded and proactive about supporting the local community. It is something we look for in our hiring process.
Early on, our employees started self-organizing to support local events and to fundraise both in coordination with the office and in small groups in their free time. Eventually, these efforts organically coalesced into our very own employee-run volunteering group called Google Cares. Each month this group raises money through employee donations (which Google matches) for one local organization and each quarter it organizes an office-wide volunteering event. Through Google Cares, we have supported over a dozen organizations, donated over 1,000 hours of volunteer time, and raised thousands of dollars.
In response to employee interest, Google Cares has also trained over 30 people to serve on non-profit boards, organized a non-profit fair in the office to promote longer-term volunteering opportunities, and set up a mini-grant program to support Googlers who are involved in the community.
Helping Michigan be successful in the new economy
If our employees are our greatest resource, it is our technology that has the greatest potential to have an impact on Michigan. As fellow Metromode guest blogger Tom Meloche highlighted in a recent post, perhaps the biggest benefit of having Google in Michigan is that it may mean more people finally catching on to the powerful tools Google offers.
Preparing Michigan graduates with on-line marketing skills
We want to do our part to help people in Michigan learn important skills that will help them to be successful in the new economy. Last year, a small group of employees had an idea to teach a class on AdWords at Community High in Ann Arbor.The class would provide students with hands-on experience managing a live AdWords account for a non-profit and prepare them to pass the Google Advertising Professional exam. The class is now heading into its third semester.
A student from the class, Alex, has a part-time job after school with Pure Visibility, a local search engine optimization and marketing firm, helping Michigan businesses succeed on-line. These AdWords skills are transferable not just for Alex, but all students who take part in the class and learn that accountability, relevance and timeliness are key metrics driving the success of but any online marketing campaign -- not just an AdWords campaign.
This year, Eastern Michigan University is offering a similar course in collaboration with Google. As more colleges offer these types of classes, more Michigan graduates will be equipped with the skills to help local Michigan businesses reach new customers and successfully grow.
Helping Michigan college students collaborate on-line
Successful graduates in the new economy must also be comfortable – some would say savvy -- in communicating and collaborating on-line. Michael Anuzis, a colleague at Google who will post tomorrow, believes so strongly in this statement that he is on a mission to help students in this region have access to Google Apps, our suite of web-based communication and productivity tools. Thus far, colleges such as Hope, Aquinas, Grand Rapids Community College, and others, have signed on and are offering the Google Apps suite to students, faculty, and alumni... all for free.
Reaching out to Michigan non-profits
We are also reaching out to help Michigan non-profits. We are currently offering nearly $1 million a year in free advertising to over 70 Michigan non-profits who have qualified for Google Grants, our in-kind advertising program run by Google volunteers around the world. Through these grants, these non-profits are able to use AdWords, Google’s timely and relevant online advertising tool, to raise money, attract volunteers, and increase awareness for their issues.
Just as important as in-kind advertising, we also want to help Michigan non-profits to be successful in the new economy. As my colleague John Kelley will highlight in a post Wednesday, a team of Googlers is working on a program to scale training programs for Michigan non-profits on ways to use free Google tools to do things such as advertise online, manage their board, keep their website fresh, and collect payments on-line. Recently, we have partnered with the New Center in Ann Arbor to train their staff on our tools and next month they will be hosting several workshops for their members.
As these programs grow, we believe that we can help Michigan be successful in the new economy, putting the latest online tools in the hands of students, preparing graduates with skills to help Michigan businesses grow, and helping local non-profits better serve their causes. With a little bit of effort, we believe we can make a big difference.
Karen Godwin (Manager, Online Sales and Operations) has over 14 years experience with marketing and product management in the software and online service industries. Most recently, she served as director of product management for Kodak Easyshare Gallery, driving consumer product strategy and building technical product management teams for the award winning online photo service. Previously, she held senior product management positions with Internet icons Excite@Home and Webcrawler.
After a decade in San Francisco, Karen and her husband Michael, who is a native of southeast Michigan, moved to Ann Arbor to be near family as they raise their son, Oliver. Excited by the opportunity to work for Google, Karen joined the company in September when its Ann Arbor AdWords office opened.
My Leap of Faith
After many years spent in Boston and San Francisco, my husband and I decided it was time to create a new experience for our family. We knew we wanted to raise our son in an environment closer to that of our own childhood. Closer to lakes, streams, farms, orchards. Closer to grandmothers, grandfathers, crazy cousins and holiday insanity. Ann Arbor, my husband's childhood home, had the greatest density of those things. With a leap of faith and a healthy dose of optimism, we shed big city life for our new adventure.
My last adventure involved a similar leap of faith, leaving Boston for San Francisco with a dream that I would work for a company like Silicon Graphics or Netscape. Lucky for me, I landed at a small internet search engine, WebCrawler. Through the Dot-com bubble and beyond, I had the opportunity to work at a variety of companies with dynamic leaders, brilliant engineers, big dreamers and fearless visionaries. Great leap. Strong landing. A bit of stumbling. Tons of learning.
I had no idea if this leap to Michigan would be the right one.
I left an incredibly rewarding career, defining consumer web services for Kodak EasyShare Gallery, in order to move our family across the country. Should I stay home with my son? Should I consult for Kodak? Do I look for new purpose in this vastly different economy? I tried them all and decided that I wanted to have local impact. I wanted to find a way to contribute to new economies in Michigan.
Still connected to the evolution of consumer web services, search and content, I networked with locals to better understand the state of the digital community in Ann Arbor. I also maintained close tabs on Ann Arbor SPARK, thinking about ways I might plug in to help energize my new community and support emerging businesses.
Then Google happened to Ann Arbor.
Working with Google's AdWords division seemed to be the obvious path for me. After all, I did cut my Silicon Valley teeth by leading ad operations for the WebCrawler search service and later defining the network advertising systems for Excite.com. Google's arrival in Ann Arbor was quite serendipitous! Like many, I was inspired by their mission, values and innovative work. Their local growth goals offered yet another opportunity for me to help facilitate the rapid pace of growth and change in a quasi-startup environment. Helping Google put roots down in Ann Arbor seemed to be a great way to make impact.
#1 Google comes to A2
I'm still amazed that I left Silicon Valley behind, only to have one of it's most famous names open shop in A2. Bizarre.
#2 Local Talent
I knew that we would find great college grads in the local Midwest universities. However, the biggest surprise has been the caliber of the local leaders we've recruited to help lead our organization. While we have a rich mix of experience bases, I was most shocked by the strong leaders we recruited from the local auto industry. My naive assumptions about Big Three talent base has been thankfully trashed forever. They are a phenomenal group of leaders who are creative, energized, optimistic, collaborative and innovative.
Choosing to work full-time while raising children is a conscious choice. Some days this is an easy choice to make. Other days it feels impossible. However, I have been thankful that Google is such an incredibly family-friendly company. I feel extremely supported in making sure that my son is a priority and feel empowered to make the right decisions to balance my professional and personal life.
#4 Impacting Michigan
I knew that by joining Google, I would help to create jobs in Ann Arbor and encourage people to put roots down in our community. I knew that the Google.org philanthropic division was making impact on some heady world issues, but I didn't realize how committed the team would be to our local community. We have formed Google Cares, an employee driven volunteer team that does outreach and fundraising for issues of their choice. We've partnered with youth organizations, schools, universities and chambers of commerce to collaborate on ways to impact our local economy.
Collectively, we're beginning to make a difference in our community and it's exciting to consider the impact we'll have as our team here in Ann Arbor grows.
My leap of faith to Michigan was built on the assumption that opportunities would abound in a small university town like Ann Arbor, rich in culture, research and innovation. It was a scary transition to leave a place I had called home for so many years and while I came here believing I left a lot behind, I quickly realized that there are a lot of opportunities here, personally and professionally.
I've landed in a place where I have the unique chance to influence the growth of a new wave of leaders and a new way of thinking. Google encourages teams to take risks, think big, and focus on solutions. We encourage collaboration and don't shy away from challenge. I'm part of a local community that embraces change and opportunities. I'm raising my son close to extended family in a community rich with diversity and culture.
Personally and professionally, I've landed in a good place, making my leap of faith rewarding in ways I could've never imagined.
Grady Burnett heads Online Sales and Operations for the Google office in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He is responsible for hiring, customer service, account management and sales efforts supporting the Google AdWords advertising program. Prior to building this office, Grady managed the national agency team at Google headquarters in Mountain View, California, which oversees Google’s relationships with advertising agencies, search engine marketing consultancies and resellers. For five years prior to that, Grady worked at DoubleClick, Inc., where he became Vice President of Agency Sales. He's a graduate of the University of Michigan and has an MBA from the Harvard School of Business.
Google AdWords in Ann Arbor: The Unexpected
When I took the job of establishing a Google AdWords office in Ann Arbor, I had preconceived notions about the challenges that lie ahead, but nothing prepared me for the experience I’ve enjoyed the past year and a half. Sure, it’s been a lot of hard work to get the AdWords Ann Arbor office up and running, but that hard work has been matched and exceeded by everyday successes and surprises.
Google chose Ann Arbor, in part, because of the talent we expected to find throughout the region. As expected, the majority of our candidates, and employees, have come from Michigan, Ohio and other nearby states.
What has been a welcome surprise is the number of candidates seeking a job at Google as a way to move back to Michigan, from all over the United States, and even Europe.
I grew up in an entrepreneurial family and the innovative culture of Google was one of the key areas that attracted me to the company. I relished the opportunity to set up our operations in Ann Arbor from scratch. Our entrepreneurial endeavors with Google Ann Arbor differed from that of my father due primarily to the deep expertise of our facilities and IT teams. The logistics of finding an office, preparing the space with furniture, establishing food service, setting up networking, computers, phones, etc were handled in expert fashion by these teams. As a result my AdWords team was able to focus all our energy on hiring, training, helping our AdWords customers around the country, and integrating with our supportive new community in Ann Arbor and throughout the state of Michigan.
The facilities team worked hard to find a space that would accommodate our growth plans for a few years as well as Google’s business needs, like training and, of course, food services. They were able to see a Google office in a space that was previously home to a bank and decidedly not in line with our colorful, collaborative workspaces – a testament to their expertise in facilities management and their ability to work with outside design and construction teams to make their vision a reality.
I expected that we would be challenged by business owners seeking ways to use AdWords, Google’s online advertising product, as a way to gain visibility online. Google established an office here in Ann Arbor to help customers around the country better harness the power of AdWords and our team was charged with delivering on that proposition.
I have been delighted by the number of business owners who take the time to tell me how AdWords has impacted their business in powerful, meaningful ways. Zingermans, an Ann Arbor institution, has been able to use AdWords to grow their online catalogue business and deliver their unique and delicious specialties to foodies around the country. AmishTables.com has been able to use AdWords to support significant business growth. In fact, in combination with other marketing efforts, AmishTables.com has seen its sales increase from $60,000 to more than $320,000 over the past two years. These two local businesses are reaching customers all around the country, thanks in part to the visibility they’ve gained online via AdWords.
The more I’m able to reach out to different groups, the more I see the potential for AdWords and its sister product, AdSense, which monetizes content for Web site and blog publishers, to support the growth of Michigan businesses.
Google deliberately hires people who are self-motivated and highly talented, so I expected that our team here in Ann Arbor would be an impressive lot. What I didn’t expect was their enthusiasm for grassroots organizing around community outreach and their commitment to helping non-profits and other entities throughout the region.
Of their own volition, teams of Googlers reached out to Community High School to offer an AdWords class as part of its Community Resources program. These Googlers worked with Community High to develop the class and then gave their time to organize fellow Googlers to teach the class itself.
Another group of Googlers worked to organize in-house teams to volunteer for, and donate money to, local non-profits where Googlers were involved – supporting each other’s interests and ultimately providing a great resource to local non-profits. Examples of this collaborative teamwork abound and continue to bubble up organically as our team becomes increasingly cohesive and effective.
My own ideas of what establishing Google Ann Arbor would entail have been accurate to an extent: It’s been an exciting challenge, yet it’s been incredibly rewarding in ways I couldn’t have imagined. I’m excited to see what the future holds as we continue to grow as a business and as part of the community.