Posted October 3, 2008 3:24 pm by with 23 comments

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You don’t see a lot of traditional advertising from Google. Their philosophy is to build great products and develop amazing technology and let it sell (and support) itself. Their marketing strategy has relied mostly on word of mouth – and its worked well. It just may not be enough for a company their size.

That is slowly changing. Google looks to be shopping for an ad agency. They’ve looked at Madison Avenue agencies like Wieden + Kennedy and Taxi New York. They’ve hired an agency for a campaign in Japan called “100 Things You Can Do With Google.” However, unlike many top brands Google ads aren’t running on prime time.

Many people outside of geekdom don’t know about Google’s 411 phone service, Gmail, or other Google products. For example, do you know about or use Google’s text message search service? Text message a search query to 466453 (“GOOGLE” on most phones) and they text message back the search results. It’s been around since 1994. I use Goog411 but just heard about text searching last week.

What they have been doing to market though – is they blog. And they actively promote blog posts. And post quirky YouTube ads on creative ways to use their products. There is constant talk of new products, new uses for products, and about Google culture. And we (the online audience) eat it up.

For the most part Googlers are great evangelists for their company. But what about the people who aren’t online or who don’t read blogs? As Google branches into cell phones, regular phones, and other products, they’re competing in spaces with more serious competition. Sometimes Google’s products sound compelling but aren’t fully baked and are rarely supported.

When Google releases their G1 cellphone with Google Android as its backend, they are planning to advertise on billboards and TV ads. They are partnering with T-Mobile, a company already doing a lot of traditional advertising. This seems more Google’s style – letting another company take the lead or do much of the marketing for them.

More evidence that Google is doing more traditional advertising is that they hired Andy Berndt, a former co-president of WPP Group’s Ogilvy & Mather in New York. He is director of a new group called Google Creative Lab where they develop marketing and branding strategies (in true Google style there are quirky contests that reward innovation).

Google may need to invest more in marketing as their growth rate slows (it’s still amazing though – 39% in its second quarter, which was 58% last year). TNS Media Intelligence says Google’s offline ad spending is at about $20 million a year.

While Google is almost synonymous with “search” they are much less well-known for their other products. Mostly I want to see Google’s authentic brand and style in the offline world. Have you seen examples of their ad efforts offline? I’d like to hear about it.

  • If they want to take over the world they need to go traditional. Should be an interesting venture for them.

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  • Do they really need an ad agency? I mean it’s GOOGLE.

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  • I wish the monopoly of google is broken in the coming days…

  • That is true you don’t hear about them in the offline world, if they want their phone to succeed they should start advertising on tv

  • good article, thanks for the summary. =)

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  • They have invented, innovated and have gained market share and now need to push ahead with other strategies. The timing is exquisite. My hats off to them.

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  • I NEVER would have thought in this way, but its very true. Well done. Google to me, means something big. Google to my parents, means, well nothing. Now this doesn’t mean that they don’t use the internet, they just don’t use it much. They would never think of using a google phone, or even google maps. You are dead on – if Google gets their name out there even more, they really can reach a greater audience.

  • This goes hand in hand with their move into the mobile phone market … they’re obviously stretching their wings.

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  • And if this too backfires…the beginning of the end?

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  • Their traditional market differs from the new ventures they’re entering into, and it is obvious that they feel compelled to use what traditionally works to push their agenda.

  • well, i also never heard of them offline….and as far as their traditional market they were old now the new marketing strategies have made the things more revolutionized so they are taking their stand to be in the race.. 🙂

  • it’s amazing what they’ve accomplished in the last 10 years with almost zero paid publicity or marketing. As they continue to take over the world and tackle new markets they will definitely have to change their game plan accordingly. it’ll be interesting to see if they can make their good (great) thing last.

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  • Google launched Android and GPhone so that should bring a lot more people towards Google. They also launched the Chrome browser, and the search and Gmail app for the iPhone.

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  • true. still quite a lot of people out there who don’t read blogs, or go online much.

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  • I wish to see how Google will lose its monopoly. Maybe one day it will happen, who knows.

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  • Just wondering about Google’s achievement on this tenth birthday. I can say they do everything to undertake all the internet data with their control.. 🙂

  • Wow, I didn’t even know about the google text message service, and it’s been around since 1994? That’s a mighty long time. I guess most people started learning more about googles other services when they launched “gmail” and “blogspot”. The more they offer user based products/services, the better their traditional word of mouth campaign will go.

  • “As Google branches into cell phones, regular phones, and other products, they’re competing in spaces with more serious competition. Sometimes Google’s products sound compelling but aren’t fully baked and are rarely supported.”

    This quote applies to their free directory assistance number, since it only works for business listings. The goal for their competitors (like 1-800-FREE411) is to replace the phone book — this means we have business, government, and residential listings. All for free.

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  • Yup, even with their size Google has low popularity at traditional @ non-foreign speaking languages countries like Japan and Korea. So they still need advert on the ground. Not everyone are using Google eventhough with the dramatic internet growth.

  • Thanks Janet. Hopefully they won’t hire the same people Microsoft hired. I hear Jerry’s looking for work 🙂

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  • Interesting that Google are now looking for an advertising agency. They still have such amazing levels of growth. I suppose all companies need an advertising agency! I expect the launch of the new phone will help them to continue world domination. Blogs are only going to get more popular.