Google Reports Q2 2013 Results: Enhanced Campaigns Gets Scrutiny

google-earningsAfter the stock market closed today, Google reported its results for the second quarter ending June 30, 2013. The revenue numbers:

Google Revenues (advertising and other) – Google revenues were $13.11 billion, or 93% of consolidated revenues, in the second quarter of 2013, representing a 20% increase over second quarter 2012 revenues of $10.96 billion.”

See the release. And get the earnings slides (PDF – 15.9 MB).

We’re live-blogging it below but you can “watch” the live and on-demand, audio-only webcast at the bottom of this post starting at 4:30 p.m. ET. (There will be a link to the transcript at the bottom.)

Yahoo’s earnings call was broadcast by streaming video on Tuesday, so it will be interesting to see if companies put more production into their earnings “calls.”

Lots of Google video promo before the call begins. Drink the Kool-Aid, investors! And then, a switch to somber piano music. And then, and then … the call begins.

Larry Page takes over and says, “Google had a great quarter,” and notes that the company is on the verge of its 15th birthday. He notes statistics from two of Google’s juggernaut platforms: Android and Chrome. For example, Chrome has 750 million users worldwide and is growing.

Google Plus gets a shout out for some of its new creative features such as some photo enhancements. No mention of the data aspects of Google Plus and its potential impact on addressable advertising.

The “biggest ever” change in Adwords gets some love from Page. Motorola is coming out with new phones (I guess) and Page is excited.

Page closes his opening remarks about the importance of investment into core products as well as philanthropic efforts (which also have a business impact).

CFO Patrick Pichette runs through the numbers next. He notes some of the “quality” efforts such as dumping piracy sites that may have been making a living off of Google’s AdSense (my words) are having a negative impact on revenue.

Search CPCs were down again and this will likely receive scrutiny from Wall Street again during the Q&A in a bit.

U.S. revenue was up 18% to $5.9 billion year-over-year. The numbers are flying by … make sure to read the release. Data-center spending remains a big area of investment, says Pichette. He calls the spending “lumpy.”

SVP Nikesh Arora talks about the business units, saying autos and Brazil were strong and a warm spring affected business in the UK. I never thought spring could impact a tech company. But there you go.

Arora discusses the Google “marketing platform” as well as device strategy. All advertisers to be migrated to new Enhanced Campaign product, which aims at simplifying mobile for advertisers, according to Google.

Arora emphasizes the importance of brand marketers to Google and provides a YouTube ad-integration example. Wildfire’s integration gets a mention as Google attempts to create better attribution capabilities for its ad-tech stack. Arora closes with optimism and the Wall Street questions begin.

Wall Street Q&A

Deutsche Bank’s Ross Sandler asks about Enhanced Campaigns and the ROI that it’s affecting for consumers. Also, asks about cross-screen conversion tracking. Nikesh Arora answers and keeps things high-level — He says that “as we get better” things will improve. So, he’s not necessarily saying that Enhanced Campaigns is hitting it out of the park right now, in terms of ROI.

Macquarie’s Ben Schachter asks a device question and about expenses. Page answers and says his company will continue to invest in products like Google Glass — it’s the future, he says.

RBC’s Mahaney asks about mobile and hiring. No news from Google execs as they keep deflecting deftly.

Page fields a question about why the R&D budget isn’t higher, given Google’s own professed interest in being a technological leader for years to come. Page says Google gets to do technological innovation at-scale and that’s exciting, but it’s hard work.

Not too many ads questions thus far — the quants on Wall Street seem to be satisfied with whatever they’re seeing in the “big data” of the financials. The company just made $3 billion in profit, after all.

Wait — spoke too soon.

The network site revenue decrease gets questioned by JPMorgan’s Doug Anmuth. “A number of partners have been notified” and are coming into compliance, says Pichette. Nikesh Arora comments on mobile conversion capabilities and stresses the importance of a cross-device understanding to help with attribution models.

Automated vehicle roll-out gets a question. (I thought this was an ads company! Guess not entirely.)

Goldman Sachs’ Heather Bellini: “Paid click CPCs — Did Enhanced Campaigns affect them?” Nikesh Arora stresses that this is about moving advertisers to a cross-screen opportunity and says “long term” a couple of times. My take: Given the way he deflected the question, it sounds like there’s a near-term negative impact with Enhanced Campaigns on CPCs.

Jefferies’ Brian Pitz asks about Product Listing Ads (PLAs). Arora says they’re trying to give users better responses and the data from the PLAs will help the performance of those ads for consumers and advertisers over time.

Finally, a question about subscription-services (music, perhaps others) revenue … How big will it be for Google? Page says yes, we’ll keep working hard, but has nothing to announce.

The call is done … with little new info other than Wall Street’s skepticism about the current performance of Enhanced Campaigns for Google.

The call transcript from Seeking Alpha is here.

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