Google’s marketing opportunities

Don Draper SofaGoogle has been in the news a lot recently. The stock is trading at all time high. The company was one of the victims of the Chinese hackers’ attack. The Internship, an upcoming summer movie featuring successful and popular duo of Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn, is about two salesmen beating all the odds to secure coveted internships at Google. A report from 9to5google surfaced about the possibility of Google opening its physical retail stores.

Of these, the last two should help address an issue which has been an Achilles heel from the inception of Google – its marketing. Several mild observations and harsh criticisms are published about how marketing is looked down upon in Google’s strong engineering culture. It may be difficult to gauge the exact impact of marketing or lack thereof on the failures of several Google products but there certainly is a correlation there.

Being the location of an Hollywood film is obviously a great PR for Google. And unlike Facebook which kept itself disassociated with the Social Network, Google took strong initiative of promoting the movie through its products. I sincerely wish that in addition to showcasing its vibrant campus, nerdy culture and driverless cars, Google influences the screenplay to talk about its broader mission in a simple way. May be, throw a punch (pun intended!) to Microsoft’s Scroogle campaign 🙂

As I write this post, Andy Rubin, the head of Android development, has denied the speculations of Google retail stores. I am 100% certain that this doesn’t mean the retail store plan is off the table. I completely agree with this techcrunch article that argues that people will not buy Google’s hardware products – Nexus, Chromebook Pixel and upcoming Google Glasses – online without first trying them first. I would argue that Google can use the brick and mortar stores for promoting the software products.

Google dominates the desktop search market; however, the mobile search landscape is still evolving. Apps on smartphones and tablets re becoming vertical search engines. People can tap onto different apps without going through Google. Google has responded by repositioning itself as the destination for various interest categories such travel and entertainment, shopping, news etc. Recent acquisitions of Zagat (destination reviews specialist), ITA Software (flight search software) and Frommer (travel content) show how the company has been filling up the missing holes. As expected Google hasn’t bothered much about marketing these product. That’s where Google retail can play an important role. People can experience the software products for themselves on Google devices. The retail store can provide curated and personal experience – something that Apple store lacks because they just don’t have as much personal information about consumer as Google does. The key here is to promote products that the consumers will use immediately, within 3-6 hours. E.g. if the store is in a mall then a coupons app that shows all possible discounts on that given day would make visitors super happy and they would remember those apps forever.

May be a Don Draper quote on advertising would be a nice wrap up – “Advertising is based on one thing: happiness. And do you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of a road that screams with reassurance that whatever you’re doing is OK. You are OK.”


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