Google’s corporate headquarters are seen in Mountain View, Calif. While Google’s growth slowed in the third quarter, the company reported a 26 percent jump in net income. More significantly, 50 percent of its revenue is coming from its overseas operation.Mct file photo
John Farrell, 38, calls his job at Google “a fantastic journey.”
It is hard to argue the point if, like Farrell, your title is country director, Google Mexico, and director of business development for Google in Latin America at a time when the region represents the fastest-growing segment in revenues and number of searches for the Internet company, based in Mountain View, Calif.
While Google’s growth slowed in the third quarter, the company reported a 26 percent jump in net income. More significantly, 50 percent of its revenue is coming from its overseas operation, although Google did not break down this result geographically.
Google began its expansion into Latin America three years ago, attracted by the growing infrastructure for high-speed Internet access, the popularity of e-commerce and certain unique habits of Latin American users.
The first step was the purchase of Brazil’s Akwan Information Technologies in July 2005. Akwan offered search services to Brazilian companies and became Google’s research and development center for Latin America.
In April 2007, Google opened an office in Buenos Aires, which was billed as “the third-largest headquarters of Google business development in the world, after those in California and Ireland.”
Here are some of his thoughts from a recent interview:
Q. What part of the business does Latin America represent for Google?
A. We are seeing triple-digit growth. For example, we launched direct sales in Mexico four years ago and we have seen 50 percent to 100 percent growth year over year since then. Also in that period we have increased penetration 20 percent in most markets in Latin America. We have users in all markets.
Our ambition is organizing all the world’s information and making it accessible and usable. Right now we have 80 percent of the total searches in the region.
Q. How about Latin American Internet users? Are there ways in which they are different from others?
A. Mexico and Brazil are the biggest consumers of YouTube in the world in absolute terms. People like to be entertained. They are using it as a video social network. We have cases where people have become celebrities through word of mouth.
Orchid, a Google-owned social network, is visited by 80 percent of Internet users in Brazil.
We are concerned about privacy issues. There is more that we could do to protect privacy. But if you don’t want to share, don’t put it up.
Q. What solutions are you giving advertisers? And what does the panorama look like in Latin America?
A. We are making a big bet on display advertising through interactive ads. We display sponsored links. The advertisers only pay us when there is a click that takes the user to the link.
There is a lot of room to grow in the arena of advertiser solutions in Latin America. The challenge we face is evangelization. Fifteen percent of the U.K. advertising market is going online. In the U.S., it’s 10 to 12 percent. In Latin America it is 2 to 3 percent.
GM is a great client in Latin America, as are airlines, hotels, Expedia and e-retailers like Mercado Libre.