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A radio futurologist writing about what happens when radio and new platforms collide
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Why the Google Chrome ad won't work

Posted on Sunday, May 24th, 2009 at 6:07 pm. #

Up there (if you’re looking at this in my blog, otherwise over here if you’re in an RSS reader) is the new Google Chrome television ad.

A man from Google has said that they’re going to be running these ads on the television. He says:

We talked to our Google TV Ads team to see how we could show [this ad] to a wider audience in a measurable way.

Google is simply wasting its money.

Watch the ad, and tell me what the ad is for. What’s the product? Do you know? Will anyone else?

Here’s how they’ve attempted to answer the three golden questions of advertising:

“Who are we talking to?”
Um. Parents? People who remember Breakout?

“What do we want them to do?”
Download Google Chrome, apparently, though the ad makes no attempt to say what it is.

“Why should they do it?”
Allegedly, the reason given by the man from Google is that this TV ad highlights the fact that the interface is clear and clutter-free. I don’t believe that this is the main reason why people should download this software; surely the unique selling point of Google Chrome is that it’s really, really fast? And in any case, this video is so abstract, I would question whether it’s communicating this effectively.

Given that this is the company that tests 41 shades between each blue to see which one performs better, I’m surprised that they’ve clearly not tested this ad for effectiveness. But at the very least, how much better would this work if they changed the final caption to say “Cleaner, faster, better – download your new web browser today. Google Chrome.”?

Mind you, I guess they’re no different to hundreds of radio stations worldwide which spend millions testing music and what their presenters say; and nothing on testing the ads that make up 15% of a typical radio station programme hour.

(Incidentally: Google Chrome has 2.83% of all visits to Media UK; and 4.34% of all visits to this blog – and I use Google Chrome as default on my desktop PC at work.)

7 comments

John Handelaar
commenting at May 24th, 2009 at 7:34 pm

Of your three failure points, I feel compelled to mention that two are shared by every iPod ad ever.

Andy Buckingham
commenting at May 24th, 2009 at 8:30 pm

This is actually one of a series of “ads” that was produced by several design agencies, all the with the goal of making a short video piece in celebration of the browser rather than to specifically advertise it.

My understanding is that only later have quotes appeared from Google suggesting they may run as TV spots. I’m guessing this has probably stemmed from Google requiring an easy way to explain the short video pieces to the press?

That aside, I agree that these are pretty useless as stand alone ads. More to the point, surely they need a sub heading: “Only available on Windows. Err, yeah, sorry.”

Alex Lee
commenting at May 24th, 2009 at 9:39 pm

I believe this is just a branding/awareness campaign and the ability to measure the effectiveness of these is always hard. As it’s on TV, the ad will expose the brand to people who may not have heard of it and will remind people who already know Chrome that it’s a) still around and b) Google are actively investing in it’s promotion (and hopefully development). This is done without a hard sell.

That aside, the double standards in how creativity (read, un-measurable fun stuff) is allowed on the TV ads but not allowed in product development seems a little short-sighted.

Paul
commenting at May 24th, 2009 at 10:23 pm

I agree James, if I saw this ad without having heard of Chrome I’d assume it was some kind of game. As for the ‘clutter’ angle, I don’t really think your average Joe is concerned with clutter in IE or Firefox. Speed, probably, security possibly, compatibility certainly. Clutter, no.

I suppose it might work as part of a larger campaign, but I’d say that marketing web browsers via traditional media is akin to throwing large wadges of cash into a bottomless pit; still, they probably have the cash to throw.

Fergus Pitt
commenting at May 24th, 2009 at 11:53 pm

The last frame of the advert gives the indication of what angle Google are taking and for what it’s worth, I think it’s quite good.

Picking up what Alex says, this looks like an awareness campaign designed to introduce a new (for most people) sub-brand; Chrome tied to their main brand; Google.

The music and animation both leverage the known attractive attributes of Google; friendly, easy, simple, light, quick (cue argument about whether these are deserved), and invest the new brand Chrome with those feelings.

If the viewer happens to be paying attention (more likely on the ‘net than on broadcast TV), they might recognise the browser elements, and if they are really motivated they might pick up the de-clutter and speed elements, but the lizard-brain stuff is the music, the colours and the known brand.

Of course because Google is an incredibly open, transparent, friendly company they’ll doubtless release their research informing this campaign, and any research on the effectiveness. Let’s all hold our breath shall we?

Robert Stevens
commenting at May 25th, 2009 at 12:32 pm

Hi James,
We tested the Google Chrome ad using eye tracking on 30 people and it performs extremely well for three key measures engagement, message delivery and elicitation of desired behaviour: http://thinkeyetracking.com/Blog/?p=158

James Cridland
commenting at May 25th, 2009 at 2:43 pm

Robert, that’s really interesting research.

“The Google Chrome Japan ad is the best we have ever tested”, you say, basing this fact on the engagement with the logo. I don’t deny that the logo is the centre of attention for thirty seconds.

“Think Eyetracking tested 30 internet users in one day and of the 30, 22 said they would consider downloading it. Of the eight respondents who said they would not consider downloading the main reason stated was that they did not know what Google Chrome was.”

That’s more interesting. Because the ad never says what the product is, either you’re saying that 22 people had heard of the product and that this ad was the tipping point to get them to download it, or you’re saying that 22 people were quite happy to download something they’d never heard of. As a control, did you ask these internet users whether they were aware of what Google Chrome was before they saw the ad?

And did “the story” which people were apparently so engaged in manage to communicate the consumer benefit of Google Chrome? i.e. did people say why they’d download it?

If the point of the ad is to get people comfortable with the Google Chrome logo – a logo almost unused in the product itself – then I’m not surprised it’s done so well in your research.

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