Google+ uses TV ads to broaden its mainstream appeal

Krystal Peak · December 27, 2011 · Short URL:

From sports fans to Muppet fans, Google+ uses its Hangout feature to bring in more users

In a bid to broaden its mainstream appeal, Google is hitting the accelerator on its TV ads.

This week, TV viewers were welcomed with a trio of advertisements touting the versatility of the group video feature on the young social network. Google+ has also finally put greater emphasis on my favorite feature in its social platform: Hangouts.

Google has seen great results from past marketing campaigns with other products such as its Google Chrome Web browser.

Earlier this month, Google Chrome 15 became the most popular Web browser, according to StatCounter analytics. After a series of TV ad spots that ran through the summer and fall, Google Chrome finally reached 23.6% of the worldwide market as of the last week of November -- this surpasses the 23.5% share that Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8. 

With proven success, Google is at it again. While it's unclear how much Google is spending on this campaign, its is estimated that Google spent nearly four times more on TV ads in the first half of 2011 than in all of last year, according to estimates from the LA Times.

Google's estimated $21 million in TV marketing this year can't compare to the more than $200 million that Apple at the begining of 2011 for the iPhone and iPad, but those are physcial products and Google+ is often peddling an online service, not a physcial commodity.  Google also has the benefit of being a search engine and, often, a verb that is self-promoting and hasn't needed to pay for much advertising over the years.

This is not the first Google+ TV spot to run. The first would be the short video that ran over Thanksgiving weekend. That commercial, however, focused more on the Circles feature that allows people to group their friends based on different characteristics and things that they wished to share with them. This feature of creating circles of friends was unique to the social network but noe Facebook and other sites have been allowing users to customize sharing abilities in recent weeks -- making this less of a unique feature.

The new TV spots include a commercial that shows how the Muppets might utilize Google+ Hangouts with the forever infectious musical staple by David Bowie and Queen 'Under Pressure.'

The Muppets appear to be collaborating via Hangouts to create a music video for the song -- prepare yourselves for future music video trends and memes to mimic this fun spin. This is also the moment in history when everyone is getting on the Muppets bandwagon, so Google is taking a timely approach to be family-friendly and trendy.

The second ad appeals to the sports fans out there that would love to see NBA's Bill Walton, Kenny Smith, Steve Kerr, Spero Dedes and Jon Barry provide live commentary for home videos. 

And the third is a bit more of a nostalgic look at how people can share little moments in their lives via the Hangout feature such as engagement announcements, New Year's Eve and planning weddings.

Google’s multi-person video chat tool (which allows up to 10 participants to communicate via video for free) is something that sets its apart from Facebook more than anything else.

Google+ hasn't lacked great tools to utilize but has been having trouble gaming traction with social network traffic and users, usually only experiencing spikes in its traffic after a new feature or change is announced and then dropping off fairly soon thereafter. 

Since all of the top social networks have their central focus that separates them from the others (i.e. Instagram for photos, Skype for voice chats, Twitter for article sharing, etc.) Google+ may be taking a stand that they are the place for video conferencing and if they can really nail that angle, they have a better shot at gaining and maintaining the audience that they have been clamoring for.


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