Karen Stocks – Head of YouTube & Display at Google

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YouTube and Google have fast become two of the biggest names in the world. This month the Coffs Coast is lucky enough to be playing host to Karen Stocks, Head of YouTube, Media Platforms & Display, Google Australia & New Zealand. FOCUS talks to Karen about the ever changing marketing industry and the phenomenon that is Google.


You’re the Head of YouTube & Display at Google. How long have you been with the company, and how did you land the role?

I have been with Google for four years. After 12 years at Vodafone, I took some time off to do my MBA and when I finished that, I looked around for a company I would like to work for. Google appealed to me, because it’s a company using technology to improve people’s lives. I started at Google running the online operations business, and then the opportunity came up to lead YouTube and display advertising.

Why do you think Google is consistently voted as the best place to work in Australia?
I think it’s because of the people and culture. This may sound like a cliché, but Google really is a place where ideas are put into action. There is a lot of freedom in your role and how you work. There’s a strong performance ethic and everyone is brilliant, but humble. The background and capabilities of my team constantly amaze me.

Describe your typical day.
It’s my responsibility to educate marketers about the opportunities of display and YouTube advertising. So the first thing I do each day is look at our sales figures. I spend a lot of my day meeting our customers to better understand how their business runs and how we can work together. I also work with my brilliant team, supporting them to achieve their advertising and business goals.

What are the core aspects of marketing that you think everyone in business should know about?
The entire customer experience is important. This sounds basic, but you would be surprised how many companies don’t consider it in its entirety. Marketing needs to move past just communicating to considering every interaction a consumer has with a company, to ensure they are getting the right experience and messaging at every point. Customers have always had a voice, but the rise of social media means this is something marketers can no longer ignore. I think you should get feedback from everyone within the organisation, including the person who answers the phone, as they have the best insight into what is really happening in the market.
On a more personal level, I think it’s important to understand your core skill sets and expand your capabilities, whether it’s through education inside or outside of your organisation.

How do you think digital is changing the marketing industry?
Marketers should also continue to try new things. Traditionally, marketers looked at historical spend to make decisions, but consumer viewing and buying habits are changing rapidly – and marketers need to keep pace. Sometimes the team that built your brand is not necessarily the same team that can bring it to life in the digital world.
Digital is a wonderful place to test out messaging and campaigns quickly and allow you to iterate. Marketers should ask themselves how much time they spend on digital consumption and see if it makes sense to match that to the company’s media spend. I also think it’s worth watching teenagers and how they use media because if you understand media consumption, they are a golden opportunity.

What do you think makes Google successful?
We put the user first in everything we do. Every product is built for the customer, and its success is determined on how useful it is for people and whether it can improve their lives. We are always tweaking and never sit still; every product can be better, and the job is never done. I think this drives us to continue to innovate. We know competition is only one click away, so we need to ensure that our products are among the best in market.

What are the biggest challenges you face in your role?
Keeping up with technological and consumer changes, which is moving so quickly. I have two children entering their teenage years, and they allow me to experience technology through a different set of eyes. Hearing my son say he won’t use a device unless it has a touch screen is a real insight. Watching my daughter is also a great education on how people are consuming media. While my husband and I will watch TV, she’ll just grab her laptop and go online to watch YouTube and the programs she wants to watch.
You’re the guest speaker at the next Coffs Coast Business Women’s Network meeting. What can our ladies expect to learn from your session?
I want to inspire them about our digital future, because it’s a very exciting time for anyone to be in business. There are so many opportunities, and I want to share some of the lessons I’ve learnt so far.
Thanks Karen.

2 Responses to Karen Stocks – Head of YouTube & Display at Google

  1. Action Jackson says:

    Good article to read. Would have been appropiate to have a reference point .. Such as a DATE on the article !  

  2. Kath Sheehan says:

    Karen is an inspiration. I look forward to hearing her speak at breakfast.

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