Stephen Baker

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Why Google needed a Superbowl ad

February 8, 2010News

We were watching the Superbowl on TiVo, about a half hour behind, when I got a text message from my son at college: "Google's super bowl ad was horrible. I'm going to use Bing."

I didn't think it was bad, but I'm more prone to sentimentality than my son (to put it mildly). As I started this post, my point was going to be that the ad wasn't targeted at people like him, a blogger who actually considers which search engine to use. And it certainly wasn't for the masses who had clicked the ad on YouTube. I figured it was more for millions of people who use search occasionally, but don't yet understand the breadth of its applications. After all, how does Google fare with people who have migrated in the last two or three years from dial-up, or are still there? For a company with 70% of the search market, that segment might represent growth. And you're more likely to reach them on the Superbowl than with a viral campaign on the Net.

But as I rewatch the ad, I suspect it might move too fast for that audience. I imagine relatives of mine watching it. Instead of seeing themselves typing rapid-fire queries and madly clicking, they're picturing a grandchild doing it. But of course, he might be using Bing.

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