Unlike other online powerhouse brands, Google does quite of bit of traditional media buys (e.g. Superbowl 2010 advertisement). Many folks will argue that Google doesn’t need to do this. Why bother? Google can advertise for “free” through its own properties. According to the bean-counters that keep track of this sort of thing, while Facebook is the site with the most online traffic, Google properties (by traffic) are ranked second (Google), third (Gmail), fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh. Those are world-wide stats and you can check it out here. (Click the image below to see the top 5 traffic sites.)
What this means is that Google has unprecedented contact points with consumers. These contact points are themselves opportunities for Google “self-advertisements” and brand building experiences. Think just how good the Google experience is. When was the last time that Google’s main search site had crashed on you? I’ll bet never. How blown away were you when you saw Google Earth for the first time? A lot. Google Translate? Amazing. Direct experience with Google builds its brand in a most powerful way.
So why would Google even bother to reach out to mass audiences when it can reach them directly online and super effectively already? And, what would a company with such a boring utilitarian search function even bother to communicate? The answer to the 2nd question is contained in the two links below. Oh yeah, they are YouTube links.
So now we have our answer to question 2. (By the way, how are the heart-strings? Don't be ashamed to say that you cried. I did too - along with most of my branding students. Hey, who needs to watch "the Notebook" for a good cry?)
These advertisements demonstrate that the folks at Google “get branding.” The Google marketing folks took the most utilitarian online product ("search" in and of itself is pretty boring) and emotionalized the Google brand. The campaign message: Google is part of your life. Google is your trusted friend to help you through your personal journey.
So what's the impact Google? The ads aren’t going to drive anymore traffic to the site or have site visitors stay longer at the site. It is even hard to expand the percentage of “lovers” of Google. The ad campaign doesn't have short term goals. The ads are designed to shape Google’s brand image for the long term. The campaign is building the brand- fortifying the Google lovers (maybe making a few more) and immunizing the brand against bad things that might happen in the future. For example, how could I bet upset at Google, my trusted BFF for some minor privacy violations? Google anti-trust, nah leave Google alone. (see http://www.vancouversun.com/Ganging+Google/5116751/story.html) A few mistakes by our best friends are easy to overlook.
One mistake Google is not making is traditional brand building.