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This weekend, Google did something it (to the best of my knowledge) has never done before: it started promoting one of its products using a television ad.

That product is Google's browser, Chrome.

The ad, which you can view here, was created by the Google Japan team and is being distributed using Google TV Ads. The goal of the exercise: "raise awareness of our browser, and also help us better understand how television can supplement our other online media campaigns".

There's only one problem: the ad comes pretty close to being the worst television ad I've ever seen. The reason? As you can see from watching it, the ad wastes ~30 seconds saying a whole lot of nothing. At the end, it asks the viewer to "Install Google Chrome" but offers no explanation of what Google Chrome is and why anyone should be interested in using it. While a good ad doesn't necessarily have to be explicitly descriptive, it does have to offer something that connects with the viewer and sparks his or her curiosity. In my opinion, there's nothing in Google's Chrome ad that appeals to a mainstream audience.

On a best practices note, the viewer is not provided with any URL to download Chrome. Yes, we all know how to get to Google but there's absolutely reason not to display 'http://www.google.com/chrome' in the ad. If you're going to promote something online in your ad, you include a URL. Common sense, right?

All in all, Google's foray into television advertising is not an inspiring one. To be fair to Google, it's never really had to promote itself in this fashion. Ostensibly Google is serious about making Chrome a winner but with its marketshare still well below 2%, it's clear that Google isn't going to be able to rely solely on its brand to get people to use Chrome. It's actually going to have to market Chrome actively. Hence the experiment with this television ad.

A word of advice to Google: if you're serious about advertising Chrome on television, hire an agency. One is definitely needed ASAP.

Photo credit: Nima... via Flickr.

Patricio Robles

Published 11 May, 2009 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2378 more posts from this author

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Karl Havard

Karl Havard, Chief Strategy Officer at Econsultancy Small Business Guest AccessSmall Business Multi-user

Patricio,

I was expecting Morph to make an appearance, shame he didn't.

As of 10am UK time 10th May, there were over 2.2M views on YouTube...which on the surface would seem fantastic coverage. However, the sentiment of the majority of viewers may reflect your opinions. Have Google fallen into the trap of investing a lot of time, money and effort into tarnishing their brand? Maybe so.

I think we'll see many spoofs of this one! 

about 7 years ago

Adam Tudor

Adam Tudor, Senior Digital Marketing Manager at The Black Hole

Totally agree about the ad, saw it over the weekend, it reminded me of some stop motion animation I did at school. 

The text at the end did make me laugh a little, 'Install Google Chrome' is announced like something from 1984, it's just missing the military style voiceover.

about 7 years ago

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Neil Whitehead

I have to disagree

I have seen much worse. This advert is fun, universally understandable & pitched at a youthful age group with the nostalic reminder of bygone computer games that were all about playability and no fuss. It provokes interest to people who may not know of google chrome but who'll, I'll argue, would search for "chrome" later that day.

Can you imagine how dry and tedious a microsoft advert might be to try and promote the flagging IE with all it's glitches and bugs, littered with over corporate confusion that would alienate fresh faced users of the internet.

Adverts aren't always about cramming in the marketing facts but dropping hints and keeping the viewer interested. Some of the worst adverts are so bad we choose to forget them yet this one sits nicely as a decent non controversial advert. Different versions might well arise throughout Youtube but google will lap up the visual retweets.

about 7 years ago

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Anonymous

I disagree. This is a great advert.

The use of stop motion works really well in making me feel nostalgic about the brand.

about 7 years ago

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seriously

seriously the talk on twitter is a lot of people like this in two days they had 2 million views, people are talking about it - I disagree think it's a great ad! 

about 7 years ago

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Alex Cowell

Yes, when I first watched the advert - despite the nice stop motion - I was left feeling a bit "so what?". However this is Google and I think it is all too easy to underestimate them at this stage.

To those who think this is just a poor TV advert with no call to action, I would suggest that it might well be a mere taster, intended to generate free PR, which we're all giving it.

Admittedly the majority of 2.2m+ YouTube views may well have been web-savvy users who aren't going to jump straight to Chrome upon seeing the ad, but all the buzz is great publicity. I, for one, will be interested to see the next step in their marketing campaign for Chrome. After all, we all heard about Google via word-of-mouth, not an advert, and they are the grand masters of free publicity.

about 7 years ago

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StareClips.com

The people on this forum critiquing the ad are likely those who already know what Chrome is, or they know what web browsers are.  The majority of "Internet users" think "the Internet" is the blue "e" icon on their desktop, which has just "always been there."  If Google can use their brand name to reach these people, make them wonder what Chrome is, search about it (on Google)... ask their neighbor's kid if they need Chrome for their computer, etc... then the ad is successful.  Google doesn't need to cater to those "in the know"... people those "in the know" have already made up their minds.  You can throw tons of detailed information to the remainder of the group, but they will tune out because they are deaf to information.  This is, after all, why they barely know what a search engine is (they just think Google is the only one), they don't know what a web browser is, and probably have a misconception about what an operating system is.  They just don't process information like the rest of us.

On a side note, I don't believe Google is really trying to increase its user-base with this ad.  I believe another strategy is involved.  If Google can show that it has a legit browser (look how quickly this one came out of beta) and that it is actively advertising it, it can prove that Chrome should be another option which comes pre-installed on PCs.  This is where they will really make a dent in the market.  Most of the typical PC users never install software (their neighbor's kid has warned them not to), so they just stick with what came pre-installed.

Furthermore, Google has been experimenting with TV advertising a lot.  By placing this ad, they can collect a bunch of information.  If they increase Chrome's install-base from 1.5% to 3% (which in the grand scheme of things, is still pretty miniscule), they can turn this around and say "By using Google TV Ads, we doubled our install-base."  That's an impressive marketing message to get people to use Google's services to advertise instead of advertising directly through television stations or cable companies.

about 7 years ago

Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles, Tech Reporter at Econsultancy

Whether you like the ad or thought it was as horrible as I, I would point out that the goal of this ad is not to spark discussion and buzz. It's to get people to "Install Chrome".

Based on that goal, its success will be measured by whether or not it moves the needle on Chrome's marketshare. The media value of the YouTube views and the buzz is almost entirely irrelevant because those don't necessarily correlate with the obvious goal of the ad.

about 7 years ago

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R.N.

I think this ad is actually quite clever. Its message is a simple one - Chrome is simple, has no clutter and is as easy as childs play to use.

People that aren't 'in the know' about browsers will certainly begin searching for Chrome because its an advert from arguably the most recognisable brand on the planet.

From all of the hype surrounding the ad and the comments that it has created, i think it's working quite nicely. 

I certainly prefer it to a gorilla playing the drums...

about 7 years ago

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Ben Price

I totally disagree.

(Big brand + controversial statement = Lazy journalism)

This advert is very clever not to mention beautifully created. It highlights the simplicity of the browser in an intelligent way. Perhaps Patricio would have preferred the advert to consist of some tacky QVC style sales pitch, but I think most people can figure out the semiotics of this advert without it being spelt out for them.

I think this is one of the best adverts I have seen for some time.

about 7 years ago

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Ian Clarke, Director at Emphatic Data ltd

Personally, I found the ad very much hit the spot, quite brilliant. But.... I'm a self selected group installed Chrome almost as soon as it became available. As Patricio says the proof of the pudding will be in the eating how much will Google Chrome share of the marketplace increase. There is by the way another measure, I think, not just installed base of a browser but also how much of total internet traffic comes from browser A, B or C. I have friend who uses whos.amung.us pro version to show his sites traffic an astonishingly high proportion of his readers use Google Chrome.

about 7 years ago

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Gregor Spowart

I quite like the ad.  It's probably a bit vague for general consumption on TV but there are plenty of truly awful ads out there so it's not unique in that.  As far as appealing to geeks go though I think it's probably doing quite a good job!

about 7 years ago

Rupert Adam

Rupert Adam, Senior Marketing Executive at Emailcenter

I have to disagree.

I really like this advert. I was sent a link to it about a month ago and installed Chrome as a result.  I prefer firefox, but the ad did its job in getting me to try Chrome out.

Most of my office saw this video too and some people have converted to Chrome.

The creative style of this video helped in its viral spread and as can be seen from most comments here it has been a success.

about 7 years ago

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Michelle Carvill

Design / advertising / all very subjective - but that's not really the point.  The proof is in the pudding.  I use Chrome and have only got positive things to say about it.  When I am in with clients - then I ask the question, why aren't you using Chrome - and then demonstrate how simple and user friendly it is.  They tend to switch across pretty quickly.  It's reliable - and now that more and more useful online resources are being made Chrome compatible - then it's only a matter of time before it shifts marketshare  considerably.  It's a great browser - that's what's important - regardless of how the 'advertising' goes.  The merit of its userbility - coupled with the power of viral positive word of mouth will ensure that Chrome will gather momentum and keep on rolling... 

about 7 years ago

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Katherine

I think this ad is brilliant. Clearly you don't understand Chrome. The whole point of chrome is that it is a very "clean" website, which strips out all the nonsense present in most other browsers. Eg. IE has a toolbar, multiple icons, etc. Chrome has none - only the most essential buttons.

Thus what the ad conveys is that Chrome just gets rid of all the junk in between and just leaves the most essential buttons. It is a clean, easy to use browser. 

You also don't need to have a link because, as everyone knows, typing in chrome into google will bring you directly to it. It's a brilliant trick, because everyone will search for chrome within Google and not any other 

about 7 years ago

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Barry Elburn

I disagree too.

This advert is great on so many levels.  Obviously it looks great, that goes without says but it is very clever too. Perhaps a bit too clever for the author of this article.

I agree with Katherine's point about why there is no URL in the advert. The article reads - "If you're going to promote something online in your ad, you include a URL. Common sense, right?" - No! Not if your business is making people search for things via Google!

I enjoy your articles Patricio but you have got it wrong on this occasion. Come on mate, take those sun glasses of, look us in the eyes and admit it ;)

about 7 years ago

Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles, Tech Reporter at Econsultancy

Barry,

As I said, the proof is always in the pudding. Effective advertising is not about being "clever". You can be too clever, too cute, too simple, too artsy. And you can be too intellectual when it comes to justifying why common sense best practices (like providing a URL) are okay to ignore.

I know it would be bad form to engage in bets with readers so I would never propose that but I'll put it this way: I wonder how many people here would actually bet 5,000 quid on Chrome marketshare showing any statistically significant increase following this ad. That's one bet I'd be willing to lay anyday.

about 7 years ago

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Barry Elburn

Patricio,

If only we could ask Google what increase in market share they consider "statistically significant".

For now, all I can gauge the success of this advert on is how I and the people who I have spoken with about it have reacted to it. Which is very positively.

I think you are confusing your arguments. An increased browser market share is obviously the goal of Google with this advert, but the advert does not change the product, it just highlights its values and drives traffic. If when someone trials Chrome as a result of watching this advert, and then decides it is not for them, it does not make this advert a bad advert. So to bet on market share is getting off the point don't you think.

about 7 years ago

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Barry Elburn

Patricio,

Sorry your last post was too long to read. Try to keep things simple, like the Chrome advert. Less is more.

about 7 years ago

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Barry Elburn

Oh I forgot to add. I don't actually like Chrome, I just like the advert. I am a firefox man myself.

about 7 years ago

Karl Havard

Karl Havard, Chief Strategy Officer at Econsultancy Small Business Guest AccessSmall Business Multi-user

I think this thread of comments is a great example of a real brand engagement journey. Whether you like the Chrome ad or not, it has certainly created an immense amount of awareness and interest. If the purpose of the ad' is to persuade more people to install Chrome it may or may not have done this...but it has certainly stirred up a lot of conversation and even emotion. This has then encouraged some advocates of the ad and advocates of Chrome itself to speak up. In turn this will cause others to reconsider the ad, and possibly go an install Chrome (just out of curiosity, to see what the fuss is all about)....which ultimately means the ad has worked.

Personally...I'll stick with my Mac and Safari.

about 7 years ago

Rob Mclaughlin

Rob Mclaughlin, VP, Digital Analytics at Barclays

I love the ad - gave me a warm fuzzy feeling - pretty impressive reation given that they are such a huge corporate and so would normally engerder distrust and uncool

about 7 years ago

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Lee Welton

The ad is rubbish. Google doesn't need to do TV adverts it can spread any product using that website that thousands use to advertise their businesses, what's it called again? Oh yeah Google!

http://www.cheaptelevision.co.uk

over 6 years ago

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online marketing

Well i like your post it's interesting .To promote any product or any site proper advertising is required.Iagree that a good ad doesn't necessarily have to be explicitly descriptive, it does have to offer something that connects with the viewer and sparks his or her curiosity.Here i would say about my experience about advertising.I choose fullservicead for online advertising and its really helped me lot in expanding business.

over 6 years ago

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Simon

The banner, press and billboard adverts are terrible. Really lazy. Do Google really think they are going to entice the world away from Firefox, Safari or IE with a simple announcement of their new product. Were is the motivation for me to use it? The advert is everywhere I look (including a big one near my house!) at the moment. The last time I saw a campaign this bad was when Channel Five launched.

over 6 years ago

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