Growing Google's Business, Reputation in Latin America

Execution of Communications Strategy for Google

Strategic Communications

June 20, 2015

Google Search Magnifying Glass

Situation: Growth brings challenges.

Internet giant Google has been operating and growing its business in Latin America, particularly in Colombia, Peru, Costa Rica, Panama and Puerto Rico, for many years with great success. However, as Google set aggressive growth targets and worked to build the region’s digital infrastructure — offering an expanded variety of services and products to the small-tomidsized businesses that are the real drivers of gross domestic product growth — reputational and regulatory headwinds began to blow that threatened Google’s efforts. Issues included the burgeoning belief (now reflected in recent European Union legislation) in a right to be forgotten, which would involve Google in removing links to disputed content. Also, as Internet volume and penetration increased in the region, questions of copyright came to the fore, as did concerns about safety and data privacy. Finally, despite its long presence in Latin America, Google often was viewed as a U.S. entity, disconnected from the region. To see if Google could change that image, increase its credibility among key opinion leaders and more effectively integrate its operations into Latin American society, the company turned to FTI Consulting’s Strategic Communications segment in April 2013.

"Google has been able to rely on the FTI Consulting team to continue supporting its business strategy in the Andean region, while navigating an increasingly complicated regulatory environment."

Eduardo Rifenburg, Director, Strategic Communications, FTI Consulting

FTI Consulting's Role: Informing key opinion leaders; framing the debate

Working with Google’s leadership, FTI Consulting helped develop a regional strategy that focused on Colombia, the market’s hub. Colombia has a growing digital advertising market and an increasingly complex Internet and copyright regulatory environment. FTI Consulting assisted Google in producing op-ed pieces about copyright case studies for trade media and published articles that positioned the company as a leader in the fight for the freedom of information while also advocating for online safety and privacy. To present Google as an enabler of economic growth and to powerfully associate the company’s interests with Colombia’s, FTI Consulting developed a plan to create a Google regional hub office in Bogotá. In addition, FTI Consulting helped Google highlight its rollout of new, customized versions of Google Maps and Street View, as well as in its efforts to make existing products such as YouTube and Search more responsive to local market needs. FTI Consulting also has helped Google with campaigns to drive Spanish-content development and keep users safe online. By identifying and engaging with key opinion leaders involved in the public debate on Internet issues, FTI Consulting helped Google contribute to the national conversation, as well as inform and educate the public on the positive role the company plays in driving the country’s economic growth and developing its digital ecosystem.

Outcome: A Google for Latin America

FTI Consulting continues to create value for Google by supporting its marketing strategy and corporate positioning through media relations and the free press, as well as by helping the company play a more strategic role in public affairs throughout Latin America. Today, Google increasingly is viewed as a company with a strong commitment to the region, particularly Colombia. Relations with media outlets that once saw Google as a competitor have improved through engagement and a fuller explanation of the company’s business model. Now the regional media views Google as a facilitator through which it can expand its reach and drive web traffic and, thereby, advertising sales. Indeed, digital advertising in Colombia increased 31 percent from 2012 to 2013, and digital now represents 9 percent of total media advertising revenues. Through educational efforts such as producing locally focused studies on consumer and digital trends, Google is heard as an involved, committed voice speaking authoritatively on the development of Colombia’s digital infrastructure and the nation’s economy as a whole.

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