Over the years I have often pondered the connundrum of Google as a marketing driven company. On the one hand, this company is entirely driven by marketing – hundreds of thousands of businesses, small and large, marketing themselves through the global platform that is Google AdWords and Adsense. Let’s not kid ourselves, Google is the most impressive and important development in the history of marketing since the invention of television. And I’m not overstating it.
On the other hand, Google has made a point of how it grew without traditional marketing, how it never spends on marketing, how it’s unique that way. And yet, it’s become the most admired brand in the world! Witness: David Lawee, VP Marketing, last year in BizWeek:
Have you ever done any brand advertising just for Google? We do a lot of direct marketing. But not brand marketing.
Well, David, not true anymore. I’ve pointed this out over and over, but it’s worth repeating anyway: Google is great at harvesting brand demand, but not so good at creating that demand. It’s pretty straightforward: Demand creation = brand, Demand harvesting = direct response. Google = Demand harvesting.
But things are changing, slowly, in Google land, and the signs are everywhere. Spotted at today’s Giant’s ballgame, which I attended (good lord, how do you blow a six run lead, for goodness sakes):
Yes, that is Google, purchasing a sponsorship in the name of one of its applications, Google Maps, at the ballpark, on the strip of LEDs that festoon the upper decks.
You might call it a non-cpc banner display ad in the middle of the web site that is AT&T Park.
From a very early post, back when I used to write like Ars, or TC, or Om, or all those wonderful folks who now work with us at FM:
I’ve come to the conclusion that Google can no longer afford to avoid consumer marketing. In order for these services to really scale, to get to where they need to go, Google will have to start promoting them. It’s unavoidable – even if you do have the best product in the world, you need to tell people about it before they get locked into other options – Yahoo, for example, promotes Travel, Photo, and other services it owns. That’s what marketing is, after all. Sure, you probably don’t need to market Google search, nor do you need to market in traditional ways. But you sure do need to promote Picasa if you want it to be anything more than a footnote in its space.
What do you all make of Google’s push into more traditional marketing? You sure as hell can’t measure the relevance and ROI of a campaign like a billboard at a ballpark!