Going advertising: Google billboard – sign of things to come?

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One has often heard this in client conference rooms: ‘why can’t we build a brand without any advertising? Like Google?’. One can, if everyone had a Google-like product. Thanks to a heady mix of great product and PR, Google rarely had to use advertising to promote it’s search engine. With Microsoft offering some serious competition via Bing, Google has perhaps seen the need to get back at Microsoft. Google is now taking billboards across several US cities to promote Google Apps – a bundle of business applications that sells for $50 per worker annually, in a campaign labeled ‘Going Google’.


The cloud-based, free Google Apps have been around since 2007 but have not been a serious threat to Microsoft’s Office suite. Even though the paid version is ‘a fraction of what Microsoft Exchange costs’ it still hasn’t been able to break the big business’ preference for MS Office. With new ventures like Chrome OS, Google may have to rely on a lot more than word of mouth to promote it’s applications. The advantage it has is that Google being Google, it gets written about for anything it does. Even if it is a pretty average billboard put up in Boston.

Do yo think Google needs advertising to sell it’s wares?

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    • Perhaps. But as they launch new products in highly cluttered categories or in categories where changing habits will be difficult (like in the OS), they will resort to some form of paid advertising, I feel.

      • don’t you think paid advertising is the microsoft territory? to spend more money advertising your product than fixing it? google knows better. plus what can a mainline agency probably tell them that they don’t already know? i’m curious.

  1. Google Apps (if Gmail and Google Talk are left out from the mix) have mostly been mediocre products.

    Sites and PartnerPages are C grade products. Docs (except the spreadsheet app) are cool toys but, if you try to live off those it’s a torture. Document writing / processing is too important to live thru a Beta for so long. (Basic stuff like pagination is missing) Even Gmail has a lot of issues when u use it with Outlook synchronisation.

    Also, getting businesses to pay for something required higher reliability, ease of use and support.

    Google Search and Google Adwords/Analytics are great products … have constantly innovated to improve and make life easier for users on both ends of the search. Hence the revolution of so many businesses willing use and spend money on those products.

    I wonder if the “Google formula” of great products need no advertising doesn’t apply here … because Google Apps aren’t that great.

    • Sridhar, good point. Google Apps experience is not singularly better than the familiar Word. It probably appeals to a niche and hence the need to create a ‘pull’.

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