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Google, Sony And Da Sponsorship Code

By - April 16, 2006

Goog Dav

When news of this broke a week or so ago, I thought “Well, it was about time Google started to play ball with the movie folks, the way Yahoo has for years.” Sure, it’s interesting that Google is finally jumping into the cross promotion pool – this ain’t a big Adwords buy, after all – but we all expected this day to come. Then I got a call from Marissa Mayer at Google, on Friday, with promise of an embargoed story. Usually Marissa is calling folks like me when a major new product is launching, like Fusion, or Finance. But this time, it was not a product, it was a promotional alliance between Sony Pictures and Google.

Now, this doesn’t strike me as big news, at least, not initially. Sure, Google and Sony are teaming up in a unique way, combining their brands to promote the Da Vinci Code. And sure, it’s being done in a particularly “Googley” way – with puzzles and codes and a contest that will ultimately crown a grand prize winner just as the movie is coming out. But….let’s consider this for a minute.

This marks Google’s first major step into the world of pure co-branded promotion, at least here in the US (we saw the Nike soccer site just a few weeks ago as well, but that was, well, soccer. For movie obsessed Americans, it didn’t have quite the same impact, and it didn’t have the same profile that this one has, for more on that, keep reading). And while this seems pretty tame – Sony is paying Google for all that traffic, right? – the deal is in fact more complicated. Because Marissa assured me that no money is changing hands here. In other words, Google feels it is getting as much from this as Sony is. Why?

Well, because this is more than just a movie promotion. It’s a Google products promotion as well. The puzzles and codes will drive people through Google’s products – not just search, but Calendar, Mail, Talk, and – in particular – the personalized homepage. In fact, to even get started, you have to set up a Google account. Mayer told me, in no uncertain terms, that the strategic goals of this promotion for Google was to familiarize folks with Google’s services beyond search.

It ain’t a branding campaign, but it sure as hell is close. I have to say, among many other things, it’s rather clever. The effect is a big box ad for the Da Vinci code on folks’ personalized home page, yet it’s been invited in via the context, so it doesn’t feel intrusive. As for the pay off for Google, I’ll write more about that in another post.

Regardless of how clever, however, this is marketing, plain and simple. And, to restate – this ain’t your father’s AdWords. The times, they are a changin’.

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7 thoughts on “Google, Sony And Da Sponsorship Code

  1. Smart analysys, the deal didn’t get much press on this side of the pond though (although now im sure to blog about it ;)).
    The payback for Google seems clear, but also a cry for help. They need big prizes to get people to finally use all of their services? Time to create some portal you’d say…

  2. Jared Lansky says:

    Can homepage ads be far behind?

  3. Keith Cash says:

    I hope google keeps it self with out all those adds.

    I can see google adding some kind of ads to increase profits?? Just imagine what the cost would be to have your ad on the Google portal, boogals the mind.

  4. SorenG says:

    I see Google trying to get the mainstream to use more of their products, but if they are too commercial they may lose the population that help make them where they are: the active internet user who seeks quality. This is why many people switched from other search engines, I believe.

    If they become too “commercial” they could be seen as just another “large multi-national corporation” and if another more grass-roots site can offer competitive search, mail, etc, (maybe Digg at some point) the same population that made Google successful may bolt for a company that they feel has more integrity and is not a part of the “mass corporate media.” This will be a delicate balancing act for them. They are clearly pushing the envelope with this.

  5. TechTrader says:

    Umair has it right. Goog can’t do media. I don’t think they’re getting the same earning engines in their other offerings as they got with search. I’m sure Gmail and Video do have some traffic, but it’s clearly not another search. They’re reaching with this Sony alliance and they don’t even know it yet.
    That being said, I’m sure they’ve done the ROI on the incremental traffic from the Sony deal and are excited about the additional click revenue… So, they’ll probably get a false positive when this venture produces successful short-term results.

  6. NetTrader says:

    “Can homepage ads be far behind?”
    lol :)

  7. sterlingaction says:

    The Schrike Project needs a Google Sposncership now how do we kidnap His Ownership ?????? Suggestion to sterlingaction_2050@yahoo.com for timely action. Talkk to us talk to us and Codntestants are wanted for this TV Reality Series (six months of HellL!!!) Be there! Contact: D.B. Cooper; this name is real.