Gero Graf, Google’s Strategic Commerce Partnerships Development Manager hasn’t Googled himself in over 5 years. The bright and amiable 30-year old first joined the company in 2008 on its UK Sales team as an industry analyst. Prior to Google, he was the managing director of a small business consultancy.
This week, Graf will speak about Google’s Product Search at The NEXT Conference in Berlin, Germany, which focuses on “Data Love,” because “data is what electricity has been for the industrial age.” We caught up with Graf to discuss his love of data, the Internet, traveling and London, the city he’s currently based in.
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CBM: What most annoys you about the Internet?
Gero Graf: It’s too much fuss still. There are still websites out there that steal the beauty of clear results in Google, or any other search engine as well. But Google is the best way to highlight the best websites on the web for your query results, there’s just still a lot of spam that we’re trying to clean up.
CBM: What would you say your life’s biggest achievement has been so far?
GG: Living in a couple countries and exploring different cultures is something which I embrace very much. It’s about leaving your home country and getting out of your comfort zone. I recommend everyone do it at one point in their lives. Moving to the UK (from Germany) and experiencing a hot pot like London has been incredible. I really enjoy working and living in London, meeting people from different backgrounds and working with a company like Google. [See our story on Google’s snazzy London offices here.]
CBM: What do you think was the #1 trigger that landed you a speaker position at Next 11?
GG: We are working on products which are very much in vogue right now; retail and commerce search products are sought after on the Internet. Google’s Product Search aims to give people rich information on products and prices from around the Internet.
CBM: Tell me more about Google’s Product Search and shopping online.
GG: The product I’m working on is called Google Shopping (aka Product Search), which is active in the U.S., the UK, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Japan, China, Korea and Australia. It’s a price comparison site that is making it easier for end users to find relevant information for their search queries, specifically in retail.
In all of these markets we’re trying to get better quality data for all the different retail categories. Currently, the service works best for electronics, while fashion is very hard because thousands of products don’t have strong identifiers. So let’s say you’re searching for the Nikon D90 camera. Whenever you search for it you will see all the different merchants who offer this camera online and reviews from end users.
In the U.S., Google launched Local Availability for Product Search, which Graf will be talking about at NEXT. Let’s say you’re strolling through Manhattan with your Nexus One and you want to see if that Nikon D90 is for sale anywhere around you. Simply type that into Google Local Shopping and it gives you location based, realtime stock availability at nearby merchants such as Best Buy, Kmart, etc. This product is a really stand out feature for brick and mortar stores, allowing them to stay competitive with online buying sites.
CBM: What do you love most about the Internet?
GG: The speed. I love entertainment on the Internet and how you can stream movies and music no matter where you are. The fact that the smartphone becomes a handheld computer and all of these things are at your fingertip, I find outstanding. It’s the scalability of what you can do and can achieve that’s amazing too. If it’s a great product like Spotify, you have instant music at your fingertips or Google Shopping, which quickens the way you find and explore things. The Internet is an enabler for everything we do in our lives.
CBM: What do you most hope happens in 2011?
GG: I want really see the adoption of smartphones enable the European consumers anywhere, anytime and, on a personal note, seeing Barcelona crowning themselves European champions. Their style commands it.
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