Bentley College Marketing- Honors

This blog is for MK 402-H01 and the greater Bentley College population.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Google Gone Wild

This week I chose to comment on Evan Roberts’s column on Marketing Shift “Does Google Annoy You Too?” In the article he describes how Google has adopted some new marketing practices. First he describes that on a new Pontiac commercial for the Torrent, the call to action is “Go to Google and search ‘Pontiac’”. Roberts finds this rather interesting and wonders “Are they just trading search rankings for TV ads now?”

When you go to Google and search for Pontiac, the first result is Pontiac.com. It is a featured link with a heading “The Official Pontiac Site”. This means that Pontiac paid for it to be featured and may or may not have to pay Google each time they refer someone to their site. The link is then followed by ClassicalPontiac.com and HighPerformancePontiac.com, both enthusiast sites. All in all, the searcher is saved from typing the dreaded “.com”, which might take three quarters of a second. Roberts was also curious of why the commercial doesn’t just direct those interested to Pontiac’s website.

One possibility that occurs to me is that Pontiac is looking for a better way to quantify the effectiveness of the ad campaign and thinks that this would be a good idea. It is possible to take the average number of searches for ‘Pontiac’ per week, (probably quantifiable on two hands) and then see what the increase is when the campaign is running. Interesting, however is there really a difference between that and counting website hits? How can they be sure that people who have seen the campaign aren’t just going to Pontiac.com anyway? My guess is that you won’t be seeing a whole lot of this in the future because it does not seem to benefit the advertiser except if they feel that Google is significantly better at arithmetic than their company.

The other issue raised by Roberts is that while watching CSI, he noticed that a character on the show was using Google to perform a search. Product placement has become common place but I haven’t seen it used for websites before. It can serve dual purpose in that it adds an element of reality to a show, and of course Google can increase its brand recognition. The issue here is that Google is far and away the number one search engine, and when asked to name another one, people would probably come up with Yahoo!, who Google owns. So why pay for the placement?

At the end, Roberts laments that eventually the world will be controlled by Google and he will be eating Google cereal, and watching a Google TV. He admits that he might just be a bit jealous of the thirty something Google zillionaires and wonders if he was the only one that that the Google IPO $85 was absurd.

This piece opens up discussion for how much a search engine can really do in terms of marketing. It has already proven that they can be the map of the online world, performing the tremendously important intermediary function of directing people to their destination or at least the right town. I don’t have much to critique about this piece except the fact that Roberts could have gone into more depth about the motivations of each of the Google functions, but then I wouldn’t have too much original stuff to say. That’s all until next week.

5 Comments:

Blogger Dr. Blogenstein said...

Hi Jay,

A couple of items for ya...Google does not "own" Yahoo! unless by "own" you meant something such as "dominates" or "leads."

Also, here is another reason why GM/Pontiac would direct people to Google rather than to it's own site...A) Pontiac.com was created by the marketer, whereas Google, in spirit, is a nonmarketer source of information. Generally, people assume less bias and more honesty -- or thinking about the consumer's needs and objectives -- when accessing and processing information from a nonmarketer source, all else being equal. Now, you might say, that, in the end, wouldn't one still end up at Pontiac.com? Sure, if one selected to click on Pontiac.com from Google. But, point B for ya - one gets much more potential information about Pontiac by Googling "Pontiac" than by going directly to Pontiac.com. As you highlighted, Google also shows links to enthusiast sites and, presumably, to all types of Pontiac-related information. It would be reasonable to say that a potential buyer -- or even a current customer -- has the opportunity to acquire richer and fuller, and perhaps more useful information from some of the links provided by Google (again, as opposed to just going directly to Pontiac.com). Couldn't we agree that, in the long run, it behooves GM and the consumer, when the consumer has a full breadth of information about Pontiac?

C) Small point, but, people might have a hard time remembering website urls...but, most people can remember Google -- as you indicate, it is the #1 search engine -- and they could probably remember "oh yeah, it was a Pontiac commercial," so, in the end, going to Google and typing in "Pontiac" (or even something close) may very well result in a greater likelihood that someone will get to Pontiac.com than when trying to remember "got to go to Pontiac.com." And D) subtle, and back partly to point B, I would not be surprised to discover that because consumers like Google more (probably on average) than Pontiac.com and because they view Google as a nonmarketer/unbiased source of information (as opposed, again, to Pontiac.com, which is the marketer and relatively more biased), consumers would be more likely to get to Pontiac.com -- or to have a more positive attitude toward Pontiac.com -- when clicking through Google (to get to Pontiac.com) than when going directly from the "commercial" to Pontiac.com. :-)

Thursday, March 02, 2006 10:00:00 AM  
Blogger Jay Gargiulo said...

Doc -

Thanks for the comment, it's my first. I was being facetious about Google 'owning' Yahoo! and didnt think to remove it for the double entendre. Thanks for your input on the motivations of Pontiac, it becomes a little clearer how companies can use google. I can see that people might find it useful to use Google to find out other things about Pontiac that the website does not offer. However do people have trouble remembering URLs when it is a brand name followed by .com? I would think that problem would be limited to sites with more complicated names. Thanks for the comment.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006 12:09:00 PM  
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