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.