* While I am working on obtaining my Masters Degree in Business, I often find myself writing pieces that work not only for my homework requirements, but also for the general public. I share these with you in the hopes that you will learn something, as I did when I wrote them *
Pretty much anyone who uses a computer for more anything on the internet has heard of Google. They are rated highly among search engines and their name has become synonymous with searching the web (i.e. I “Googled” to find the most popular movie this weekend). However, they seem to be lacking in some areas of their marketing in recent years, including in their area of promotion (advertising), identifying target markets, and protecting its brand in light of privacy concerns.
First, I find it slightly humorous that when you do a Google search for the word “search”, Google doesn’t even list itself as the top result (i)! Even more ridiculous is that it’s not even in the top three – it’s 7th, below many smaller and supposedly less popular search engines (even AltaVista, which I hadn’t even heard of since I was in high school and wasn’t even aware it was still around). I’m pretty sure that if you are a company that primarily deals in web searches and SEO, you’d want your company to show up as the first result!
There also appears to be a generally lax attitude towards advertising in general at Google. At one point, the VP of Marketing at Google actually admitted “…Google's brand has taken on such an aura that he says he doesn't have to do much of the usual care, feeding, and policing of the brand—let alone run any television or print ads.(ii)” To me, that is a dangerous attitude to have that could easily ruin Google should another competitor come onto the scene that is more willing to add a focus on advertising, such as Bing. Google has been willing to do co-marketing for some products or services, but for the most part feels like they don’t “need” to advertise themselves because everyone already knows what they do.
Google did try one television spot during February’s Super Bowl. It wasn’t very creative, and word got out that it had already been on the internet for several months prior to hitting tv. Not to mention “A company that makes almost 97 percent of its revenue from online advertising effectively said, “When you want to push your brand, go to a television station.” This is like a beef producer saying that if you want good health, go vegan.(iii)” What did they advertise? Their search engine, which was something that was already fairly well-known. It may have better benefited them to promote one of their new products instead, like the latest Droid phone, and thus increase their exposure in other markets where consumers may not realize they exist.
Speaking of Droid phones, it seems that Google has not been pursuing many target markets that could increase its brand recognition and profitability. For example, the ever-growing market of young professionals that rely on smart phones such as the iPhone or Droid. While Google is the platform that Droid phones work off of, they don’t have much to do with the development of popular applications that are available to be downloaded to the phones. In fact, when you type “Google apps” into the Google search engine, it comes up with primarily Google-based websites and web services rather than applications for your cellphone (iv). Google also flopped when it came to coming out with its own phone, the NexusOne – from start to finish, the phone was only moderately hyped by tech writers, who then decided that it wasn’t worth anything if Google wasn’t going to promote it or price it appropriately (v).
Finally, Google recently introduced a product called Buzz, which was supposedly an attempt to join in the social networking phenomenon. Despite the fact that Facebook and MySpace had already been dealing with privacy issues for years, it appears Google did not do enough research and still ended up having many privacy issues that consumers have been complaining about since its release (vi). They issued what felt like a half-hearted apology at best to most users, which resulted in Mozilla Firefox actually taking the step to endorse a Google competitor, Bing, as a better search engine (vii). Why is that such a big deal? Mostly because Mozilla Firefox is just finishing up a multi-year deal with Google that makes it automatically the home page of the browser! If one of Google’s “friends” is taking steps to get away from it, how will the consumers feel about the company?
Overall, Google is still a successful company, but I predict that if they don’t address some of these marketing issues, their marketing strategy will continue to worsen and cause the decline of the company.