Google announced Tuesday in a special press conference at Johnny T-Shirt in Chapel Hill that in 2009 it generated $780 million for North Carolina businesses, website publishers, and non-profits. In total, the Internet giant generated $54 billion in economic activity across the US last year alone. These figures were unveiled at a series of launch events held across the country, and Chapel Hill was lucky enough to host one. Google sees a great opportunity in partnering with companies—large and small—based in North Carolina, said representatives.
“Google is best known as a search engine, but we’re also an engine of economic growth for businesses in North Carolina,” Google Vice President for Global Agency and Industry Development Penry Price said. “Google isn’t just a California company – we’re also a North Carolina company, generating hundreds of millions of dollars of economic growth every year for local businesses and entrepreneurs.”
So how, you might ask, does searching things on Google translate into revenue for North Carolina businesses? When you enter a search on google.com, there are two columns of results: the left-hand side we are all familiar with (the “natural search results,” as Price described them), and the right-hand side of sponsored links and platforms. Sometimes they appear above the natural results, as well. These are advertisers that compete in auctions for the space, and be it known that these slots are not cheap. However, Google grants favor to relevant small and local businesses, like Johnny T-Shirt, in order to help them promote themselves and grow their market.
Hence why small businesses love Google and love Google Ads. “For every dollar an advertiser spends on Google Ads, they make two dollars back in revenue,” Price said. Over the past half decade, companies from around the country have been taken under the wing of programs like Google Ad Sense and Google Ad Works. He said Johnny T-Shirt was selected as a prototype ad client in 2004 because they excelled in both product and service, and the amount of online traffic they were receiving was distinctly noteworthy. Google called up the store’s retail manager Heather Frazier to help them meet their rising demand.
“Google has enabled us to reach customers far beyond Chapel Hill,” Frazier said. “It is an important part of our marketing strategy.” Johnny T-Shirt’s online sales recently surpassed in-store sales for the first time.
This story is not uncommon for locally-owned North Carolina businesses, the majority of which are considered ‘small’ and ‘entrepreneurial’. “Sixty percent of people employed in North Carolina are employed in businesses with less than 100 employees,” said N.C. Representative Verla Insko (D-Orange), who was among the North Carolina state and municipal representatives in attendance Tuesday. Others included Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt, N.C. Department of Commerce Small Business Commissioner Scott Daugherty, and N.C. Senator Ellie Kinnaird (D-Orange).
“Google is ubiquitous,” Kinnaird said. “It’s a verb now. People use it for everything in their daily life. So, we’re proud to welcome ‘Google Nation’ to North Carolina.”
Kleinschmidt said Chapel Hill has an unfair reputation for being anti-business. What the town does stand for, he said, is good corporate citizenship, and the goals and grants Google announced are “true Chapel Hill values”. Last year, Google gave out 70 grants to state start-ups and donated more than $1 million to non-profit organizations and charities by offering free advertising.
The announcements were met with gracious applause. State leaders seem to agree that partnering with Google could create new jobs—and even new businesses—for North Carolina, and for Chapel Hill.
But still, why choose Chapel Hill for the big unveiling? Price had an answer: “We looked at the way business is growing in North Carolina.” He said they wanted a fair representation of the face and future of all the types of US cities Google works with, and Chapel Hill fit that bill.