How Google’s Culture Laid The Foundation For It’s AdWords Engine

16 September 2022

[Video Transcript]  

Build A "Smart Creative" Culture

Insights From 'How Google Works' by Eric Schmidt And Jonathan Rosenberg


"These ads suck."

Those were the words that Larry Page, Google's co-founder, once wrote across printouts of irrelevant ads that had popped up in Google searches.

He had been playing around on the Google site, typing in search terms and seeing what sort of results he'd get.

A search for the motorbike Kawasaki H1B yielded lots of ads for lawyers specialising in H-1B US visas.

Which meant that Google users were being bombarded with lots of unrelated information.

Page printed some of these out, wrote his feelings across them, pinned them on a bulletin board and went home.

What happened next demonstrates the power of Google's culture.

A group of engineers, who weren't even responsible for the ads, saw the note.

They worked over the weekend to find a solution.

What they came up with was an "ad relevance score."

This became the foundation for Google's AdWords engine, a multibillion-dollar business.

The lesson?

It's not just about hiring these "smart creatives".

It's also about creating an environment that's fun for them to work in.

That way, you'll get a bunch of problem-solving ninjas who come up with great ideas without even being told to do so.

How do you do that?

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One is, by spending some time in figuring out how to make work exciting for the best new-age employees. Whether they're designers, scientists, filmmakers, engineers, chefs, or mathematicians. These people are curious, open, risk-taking, and self-directed.

Two is, by recognizing and rewarding such behavior.

Three is, by giving them responsibility as well as freedom.

Remember, they need to care deeply about the place they work in.

The engineers who came up with the AdWords idea had a clear understanding of their company's priorities, and knew they had the freedom to try to solve any problem.

If they failed, no one would have blamed them. And when they succeeded, no one was jealous of their progress.

That's what a "smart creative" culture can do. Hiring smart, creative people isn't enough.

Figure out how to build a culture that excites and empowers them.

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