Stephen Newton (Credit FM Tech)
New Google SA Head Stephen Newton (Credit: FM Tech).

Stephen Newton is the country’s new Google head. He’s an American who has been living in the UK. He’s now based in Johannesburg, heading up the local Google office. He studied as a lawyer, has previously been the GM of Hitwise UK, a Vice President at Double Click, and then Google EMEA Head of Analytics & Commerce. Newton describes South Africa as “Africa’s entrepreneurial heart” and is looking at ways of broadening the country’s internet access. He’s a rugby fan, and a nice, down-to-earth guy to have lunch with.

I asked him 10 questions:

1. What’s your mission for South Africa?
My mission for South Africa, is to assist educating South African, businesses, agencies and the general public, on the power of the online environment, and what it has to offer.

2. Tell us one thing we don’t know about you?
I love to watch Rugby

3. How will Google SA be different from the other Google regional offices?
Well first and foremost, it will be in South Africa! (attempt at dry humour) But really, the beauty of Google is that we have a unified culture, but are encouraged to add local flavour/content to the over arching culture.

4. Are you planning to engage government? If so, at what level?
I am unable to comment on this right now.

5. Do you foresee Google SA becoming more than a sales shop, but a local innovator here too?
Watch this space

6. CPM or CPC?
Both, there is a place in advertising for an immediate call to action as well as brand building.

7. Why is online CPM display/banner advertising not bringing in the big bucks?
I can’t say that I agree with this statement. I would feel more comfortable saying that many are not equipped to properly measure CPM results. There are some very interesting attribution and exposure to conversion studies and models that show the value and ROI of banner advertising.

8. Badda Bing?
Awesome, with innovation and competition, everyone has to try harder. Any product, platform that gets more people engaged with the Internet benefits the entire industry.

9. Tell me one thing you have in common with South Africa?
Like the people of South Africa, I too am from a country that has undergone a dramatic change in a relatively short period of time. Although I respect how you have seemed to do it so quickly. Incredible.

10. What difference can Google make in the lives of South Africans, when 90% of the country doesn’t have access to the Internet?
We can help to assist in those innovative proposals that are aimed at giving the 90% access. We have already begun talks with some of the principals behind such proposals. Also, we can assist by demystifying the web, and getting more people engaged with the online platform. As businesses realise the power and potential reach of the online platform, they too will research and support equal access initiatives.

8 Responses to “10 questions for new Google SA head: Stephen Newton”
  1. Cannot find where Googles Offices are or a telephone no. Please could you assist me thanks

  2. Actually oneafrikan… I thought I would go in with the softer questions first. I normally save the blazing guns for the end of the interview 😉

  3. Holy crap Mandy, those guns are blazing…

  4. The questions I would have asked Stephen Newton:

    1. Did Stafford Maisie resign or was he fired?

    2. Has the case with Entelligence been settled? If so, what was the outcome?

    3. Has Google lost credibility with Search Marketing Agencies in this territory, and if so what is being done to restore credibility?

    4. Why were you brought in for the position? Was no local talent available?

    5. What is Google’s position regarding hiring local talent?

    6. What is Google doing to grow talent in South Africa?

    7. If Google claims to be investing in South Africa why are revenues diverted off shore and why is a loss making or special purpose entity that pays little taxes registered in this country?

    8. How much revenue does Google make in this market?

    9. How much tax does Google pay to the South African government – or how much tax was paid during the last financial year?

    10. What is the situation with regards to click fraud and publisher scams in SA?

  5. My question is when is Google Maps improving and getting directions? Hopefully before 2010 world cup?

  6. Yeah I was also quite surprised by that; not responding makes it rather obvious that they’re in some sort of talks.

  7. Always great stuff here, thanks Matt.

    Let us know if any of those”interesting attribution and exposure to conversion studies and models” become available. Would love to see what Mr Newton benchmarks against.

  8. Interesting on keeping mum on the government involvement. Some thinking goes that the only real way for Google to be involved in South Africa is in helping shape policy.

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