My light-bulb moment was where I realized that relevancy was king. I really saw it play out with Google... it was a big learning curve.
—Penry Price, Google's vice president for advertising for North America
The idea that advertising sells best when it is pertinent to search results helped Larry and Sergey come to terms with their business model, and it also delivered the economic payload. Advertisers liked the highly targeted ads, and searchers were more likely to click on an ad if it pertained to whatever they were thinking about when they typed words into the search box.
"I think the beauty of the search model is the one thing we know is your intent," explained Tim Armstrong, senior vice president for Google's North and Latin America advertising. "There's a chance that we're going to be able to give you the right information at the right time—the right ad to the right user at the right time with the right outcome—because it's a very self-directed form of advertising. Google doesn't need to know who the end user is to be successful in advertising."
Google was not the first Silicon Valley company to capitalize on the notion that relevancy mattered. Google's advertising approach was modeled after that used by GoTo.com, which allowed advertisers to bid to have a link to their website listed in the sponsored area whenever someone searched for certain key words. Rather than hire GoTo to handle its advertising, however, Google wrote its own ...