Browser Media had the pleasure of hosting Google’s Grow Local Event on Tuesday 25th November, and this is how it went down.

The idea behind the event was to communicate the benefits of choosing a Google Partner agency to manage your online advertising if you’re a small- or medium-sized business. For those that didn’t attend, the video of the entire meetup is now available:

The event began with a brief history of what the Google Partners programme is. Running for the last year, it’s been a great way for SMBs to connect with Google through experts in digital marketing and the world of online advertising. Then followed a not-so-brief introduction of the key speakers:

  • Shane Nolan – Director, Small and Medium Sized Businesses
  • Sarah Byrne – Head of Agency SMB Sales
  • Cera Ward – Country Manager, Large Customer Sales

Shane Nolan and Sarah Byrne were “interviewed” first, and asked the following:

What is the Google Partner agency programme?

Sarah Byrne told us about the 3,300 agencies in the UK who are part of the Google Partner programme and that this affords them the opportunity to work closely with Google. Members of this Google Partner community are invited to Google events, are granted specific training around Google products and are given access to industry trend insights and special offers. Of those 3,300, just 800 are known as “badged” agencies, which means they are recognised as specially qualified in Google AdWords.

What role does online advertising have in growing business?

Unsurprisingly, Shane Nolan was asked to discuss the benefits of spending money on online advertising. To his credit, he did talk about how visibility online and search in general was a valuable part of any growing business before going into detail about spending money on PPC. He talked about how the internet is a game-changer as far as how businesses grow and how they strategise growth (not exactly a revelation, there) but statistics revealed in studies by Boston Consulting Group and Mckinsey backed this up showing that businesses embracing online grow 4 to 8 times faster than their peers, and export twice as much product. What it boils down to is that when it comes to online advertising, you don’t need to be a large company with a huge team and an even huger budget. Shane went onto to emphasise that when it comes to online marketing:

Being fast is so much better than being big

How can online advertising help SMBs grow?

Shane Nolan went on to discuss an inspirational example from Jules B, an online fashion retailer who worked with a badged Google Partner Agency between 2009 and 2012 after launching their eCcommerce site and realising they didn’t have the skills in-house to push their online presence. Unfortunately, we weren’t given specifics around the work that was done on the site to “optimise CPC” and “maximise conversion rate” (which would have been a lot more inspirational, in my opinion). However, we were told that with just a £75,000 investment in the last 5 years, sales doubled resulting in £1.8 million in revenue and expansion outside of the UK… gosh, with results like that, you’d be mad not to use a badged agency!

What are the benefits of working with a Google Partner agency?

Sarah Byrne talked about the difficulties of approaching online advertising as a newcomer and how an agency brings expertise and knowledge to the party. Again, not a massive revelation, but it’s true. As an agency, we do know the market. Heck, it’s our job to know the market. Online advertising is so effective, but you have to know which advertising formats work, who and where the audience are, how much to spend and when. That’s when agency experience really comes into play.

What should a client expect from a Google Partner agency?

Yeah, kinda the same question, but it did mean that Sarah Byrne could talk more about agency expertise. She also promoted the fact that badged agencies (like Browser Media!) bring extra assurances to businesses that they’re working with a qualified expert who will show you how to use customer insights, analytics and your business knowledge to design and constantly improve campaigns and ultimately deliver ROI.

What should a Google Partner agency expect from a client?

Oooh! What an interesting question! And not one you hear every day according to Shane Nolan:

 The one consistent ingredient we see for the most successful relationships between agencies, clients and Google, is full openness and sharing information.

Next up, we were shown a montage of some representatives from badged agencies outlining what they believed were the best bits of being part of the Google Partner community:

  1. It encourages agencies to check out the newest Google products, which in turn encourages clients to try them out
  2. It allows you start to climb the “Google ladder” – no, not a new Google product, but engaging with Google does afford interesting opportunities around accessing new stuff
  3. Being invited to Google events is a great opportunity to network and mingle with other like-minded people (always fun, huh?) and means you can learn from others in the community
  4. Having a dedicated Google account manager on the end of the phone means that clients vicariously have a direct link with Google. This is effective for sharing best practices, training on beta products and for troubleshooting
  5. It means that with more client successes, agencies can grow – with new staff comes new training, more training means more knowledge, and more knowledge means more expertise for clients to tap into!

 Capturing the moments that matter with Cera Ward

Cera Ward introduced us to John to illustrate that human beings haven’t changed and that their carnal needs and wants haven’t changed, but the way they fulfill those needs and wants has.

Image credit to Google's Grow Local Meetup2004-John reads the newspaper, watches football and goes down the pub to chat, smoke, and play snake on his Nokia 6210.


2014-John no longer reads the newspaper. He uses a smartphone whilst commuting to catch up on the news. Also, because of the smoking ban, he’s off the fags and instead indulges in a fitness band his wife bought him for Christmas with the Run Keeper App. He hooks up with his pub-friends to jog round the park and train for half marathons and he also bought his three children tablets. They don’t share though, so he and his wife rock a laptop instead of teaching their offspring manners.


With a healthy dose of poetic license, we’re asked to understand that John is a “Typical Brit” and a “Connected Consumer” – he’s not particularly high-tech, but connected 24/7:

Grow Local - change in behaviour

Using the statistic that the average British consumer spends 3 hours and 41 minutes longer online than they do watching television (not sure it’s actually time to chuck out the TV set yet, Google) Cera Ward reminded us that people consume media in lots of different ways – multi-screen consumers, if you will – and that while watching television used to be a relaxing and passive pastime, it is now an “active activity” with “lean in screens” dominating over TV:

image credit to Google's Grow Local Event

But it’s not just our browsing behaviour that’s changed, oh no. The actual buying process has changed too. Buyers are now hyper-informed. With 63% of purchases being influenced by mobile search, we’re “information hungry” and therefore unpredictable. What was once a linear path to purchase has now become a “path to purchase hub” with online at the centre:

image credit to Google's Grow Local Event

So with that in mind, how does Cera Ward think agencies can help their clients grow in 2015?

  1. By being there when your users are online (all the time, on all platforms)
  2. By being relevant (using remarketing to reach warm leads)
  3. By tracking conversions (to establish ROI and see what works best)

image credit to Google's Grow Local Event

She gave a couple of really good examples of this, one of which was a chap buying emergency Mother’s Day flowers. He’s on his way to his mum’s, freaks out because he forgot to get her flowers and grabs his phone to search for a solution. A florist’s paid ad pops up, turns out it’s close by, and so he hot-foots it down there and totally buys some flowers. He’s happy, Mum’s happy and online advertising saves the day!

Time for another montage. This time the representatives of the Google Partner agencies gave us their top tips for online advertising in 2015:

  1. Keep an eye on your clients’ search queries: update the negatives and don’t forget the long tail searches
  2. Be online – everyone else is
  3. Think about what your clients’ potential customers need and then help your client fulfill those needs

Lastly, a Q&A Session

… with two questions:

1. What changes can we expect to see in PPC over the next 5 years?

Cera answered this by saying we’ll likely move away from PPC as we know it, with a greater focus on targeting audiences, not single platforms. She also predicted an increase in vertical search (shopping results, flights and hotel vacancies for example) and a more programmatic and feed-based approach, linking merchant centres. 

2. Which tactics work best for charities fundraising online?

Back to Shane Nolan who told us that charities are no different to businesses. As a charity, you need to be where your customers are (online) and apply the other laws of business. Online marketing is trackable and traceable, meaning ROI is far easier to gauge than a huge print campaign. He went on to describe the benefits of using video to communicate and create an emotion around a charity’s appeal and how online video is way more cost effective than a big TV Ad.

And that’s a rap.

Looking at the webcast as a whole, we were actually a little disappointed here at Browser Media. By inviting prospective businesses along, we hoped to offer a more indepth insight from Google as to why choosing us, as a badged agency, was a no-brainer. Feedback from our guests suggested that that message wasn’t so clear and that although there were some interesting statistics discussed, there weren’t as many practical examples offered as they (and we) had hoped. Luckily, we went to town post-meetup and gave some examples of our own! All-in-all, it was cool to be a part of Google’s Grow Local Meetup, and a great excuse for some networking and a beer.