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It's not exactly surprising that the world's most prominent online advertising company, Google, pretty much shunned television ads for the first decade of its existence.

After all, it helped pioneer an ad model that has shifted budget away from traditional forms of advertising.

But as the search giant has moved beyond search and search ads to launch new digital products, it has clearly accepted the notion that there's a place for television advertising.

Google's initial forays into the world of television advertising weren't for everyone. I, for instance, suggested that the company's 2009 Chrome ad might be a contender for the "worst television ad ever".

Google didn't give up and made its biggest small screen ad buy last year when it purchased a Super Bowl spot to promote its core product. This ad, to Google's credit, was a huge improvement.

Nearly two years later, Google appears quite comfortable with television ads. Case in point: yesterday, it used one to push Google+ to a broader audience during a Thanksgiving day NFL game.

The message, Google+ is "Sharing, but like real life." To drive that message home, the company focuses in on its Circles and Hangouts functionality, which are arguably two of Google+'s most notable Facebook differentiators.

In my opinion, the ad is nowhere near as Google as the company's Parisian Love Super Bowl commercial, which tells an interesting, emotional story through one fictional user's Google searches. Compared to that ad, Google's attempt to introduce Google+ to U.S. sports fans feels a bit too mechanical and lacks the intrigue and emotion delivered in Parisian Love.

The real question, of course, is whether Google's attempts to use television ads to drive Google+ adoption will pay off. Facebook, of course, is the 'social network', and it never had to run an ad to get there.

With Google willing to spend big bucks on one of the most expensive forms of advertising, we'll soon find out if the small screen can help the company make a big splash in a market it clearly wants to be a strong player in.

Patricio Robles

Published 25 November, 2011 by Patricio Robles

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

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Comments (4)

Andy Kinsey

Andy Kinsey, Web Designer, Graphic Designer & SEO at Andy Kinsey Designs

It will be interesting to see how this pans out. They made mistakes in the past it's true but this has an air of quality about it.

It is interesting to note that almost everyday for the past few weeks Google has ran adds about privacy and sharing in the Metro newspaper (partnering with the CB) ... these are full page ads. Not an ad for G+ though.

almost 5 years ago

Simon Francis

Simon Francis, Campaign & communications consultant at Claremont Communications

When a social network has to advertise on broadcast media, rather than rely on naturally generated word of mouth, surely that indicates it's failing as a social network?

over 4 years ago

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Nick Stamoulis

Google is really investing a lot into Google+. Using traditional media may not be a bad plan, since there are still many people that haven't even heard of it. The majority of Google+ users are still tech people and it has yet to really go mainstream.

over 4 years ago

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Dane A.

@ Simon Francis, absolutely not. After all, it took Facebook over 3 years to attain a userbase that Google+ has in less than one year. That's far from failing. The problem is Google wants to diversify said userbase, as its mainly tech geeks and the occasional celebrity. But instead of advertising, they need to continue to improve the platform. That's how word of mouth gets generated. Remember, Facebook was a largely closed portal to school students only until it started to evolve. Google+ needs to find things that will greatly attract the average internet user.

over 4 years ago

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