In a former life, I worked with Google in Australia [on the local and maps launch], in London [on the search/brand story] and in New York [on the first Chrome launch].
Across those clients and continents, once thing remained absolutely constant in all the recommendations and discussion: Google doesn't advertise.
OK, so even back in 06, Google had already dipped its toe with super-smart recruitment ads and was beginning to realise that it was going to have to promote some of its huge array of products somehow, especially in categories that are strategically vital, like local search and browsers, for ushering in Google's vision of a ubiquitous internet, always on and for all, that it can serve, and serve ads to.
But we always agreed, as Larry and Sergey said in the SEC filing, that Google was not a regular company, and had no intention of starting to act like one.
So seeing the Google Superbowl spot for search, a category where 100million dollars has bought Bing about 2 point of marketshare, left me a little puzzled, charming and Googley as the treatment was.
[Although it did remind me of the search stories that were re-constructed from the leaked AOL search data, which were a bit more ominous.]
[One of the most important things you learn working at, or with, Google, is what is, and isn't Googley. Long term Googlers just know. It becomes instinctual, because Google is a company that understands that a brand is a behavioral template for every person that works there.]
[A Google engineer once said to me in Australia: aren't all ads spam? - which is what led to this article - because I steal.]
BUT then I remembered that:
Google intends to become the trading platform for all advertising, especially television,
bringing the granularity of direct marketing and online ad serving to broadcast,
that the Google TV Ads product is still relatively unknown and underutilized,
despite the incredible level of data it can provide,
that Google has been trying for years to help advertisers think about the relationship between Superbowl [or any TV spots] and search and online video,
that the ad was conceived and launched, according to Eric Schmidt, as an online film, that became an 'ad',
[an inversion that I think is probably the right way to think about what we do]
and that the proof of any new platform requires big brand case studies and support, and that having your own is always useful when talking to agencies....
And in fact they have already said they are running Chrome spots across their TV AD network as a LIVE CASE STUDY OF HOW THESE THINGS WORK TOGETHER...because you can use insight from online deployment to better plan the TV, as I've been saying for years, because the internet gives you real data, not nonsense from pre-testing focus groups:
Using some of the results from our placement-targeted ads on the Google Content Network, we designed a Google TV Ads campaign which we hope will raise awareness of our browser, and also help us better understand how television can supplement our other online media campaigns.
and then I thought that maybe this Superbowl TV spot wasn't really advertising search at all.