Why Google Turned to Print Advertising

By {grow} Community Member Mila Araujo

Lauren Indvik recently wrote a post on Mashable with the provocative headline “Google Buys Newspaper Ad to Show Why Newspaper Ads Don’t Work. Millions of Social Media advocates around the world probably rejoiced, thinking “Here’s the proof that Social (Marketing/Search) is the only way to go.” Was this Google’s “in your face” way of making a point to the print industry? Was the ad really supposed to show that print ads don’t work?

Wake Up!

Google’s ad ran in both the Canada Globe and Mail‘s print and digital editions, as well as in the National Post, the Globe‘s main competitor. Why would Google run this ad in print instead of trying and reach their core market online?  Maybe, if Google hasn’t reached the online market by now, they probably aren’t going to! There is a certain point of saturation. You can keep advertising to the people online, or you can get smart and expand your market to a new segment.  Everyone in the world is not on “social!”

Go to Where Your Clients Are.

Google made a smart splash by running that ad. They reinforced value to the socially minded marketing people who surely smiled as they saw the ad and they also got the attention of the people who need someone to explain to them “Why Google?”

Their approach was brilliant on two levels:

  • They provided a phone number for people to reach out and connect with them. How often do you see that when it comes to online services? Clearly targeting those who are still doing business the old fashioned way.
  • They posted a question in their ad that absolutely anyone could relate to. A good old fashioned haircut. Who doesn’t get that? By providing a common ground that any individual or business can understand and relate to, they create an opportunity for understanding in an area that most people are intimidated by. Google is for anybody.

The Evolution

Data from the Newspaper Association of America, newspaper advertising revenue dropped to a 60-year low in 2011.  Adjusted for inflation, the level was back to the 1950’s!

When the television was introduced in the 1950’s, many thought newspapers were set for extinction. But markets evolve and develop.   The next big thing will be social television.  As for newspapers, they may have to drop the number of printed copies, just like some of them dropped the evening edition in the 50’s – but they remain a reliable news source. Their online “circulation” is growing. They are evolving.

In fact, there will always be new channels to consider.  And the marketer must also be evolving and paying attention to what is happening with the people, rather than focusing on the shiny new toys. I say, bravo to Google for hitting print and focusing on the people strategy.

Go wherever your customers and prospects are, because they aren’t going to come to you.


mila araojoMila Araujo writes about Leadership, Social Media and Customer Service for several sites, including her Perspectives blog  which explores different angles and  ideas into understanding  social media and how to use it to drive business forward and build community. She is the producer of the 140 Conference Montreal.  Connect with her on Twitter @Milaspage

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