RealTime IT News

Google Takes Its Apps Message to the Streets

The company that's made billions of dollars on the Web is going retro in tapping some decidedly old-school media. Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) today is launching an aggressive billboard campaign in four major cities that will focus on the advantages of using its Google's App suite.

The billboard ads will have a simple, giant black-on-white text message that will change every business day for four weeks -- unheard-of for most billboard ad campaigns. Google can change the look of its Web page any time of day, but billboard campaigns usually remain static over a period of months because of the cost and labor of changing the signs, and the desire of the typical billboard advertiser to hammer home the same call-to-action message, day after day, to commuters.

The move comes at a time of growing competition between Google, an upstart in the office productivity applications space, and Microsoft, the market leader.

"Like anything else at Google, we launch, test and iterate," Matthew Glotzbach, who directs the search giant's enterprise applications group, told InternetNews.com. "The big picture here is that this is one of the larger ad campaigns Google's engaged in. Google executives have said great companies will thrive in downturns and we're putting a lot of investment in our enterprise business as it continues to grow."

The billboards "tell the story of an anonymous IT manager who gets so fed up with the typical IT status quo that his company eventually -- you guessed it -- goes Google," Andy Berndt, managing Director of Google Creative Lab, said in a blog post.

Glotzbach added that "the whole gist of the campaign is that when a company or individual has gone Google your life gets better, frustrations go away."

Reaching beyond techies

He also admitted that the effort is an attempt to reach a broader audience than the tech circles that know about Google Apps already.

"Google on billboards -- that's different," Glotzbach said.

The initial messages sound very much like they're intended to introduce people to Google Apps.

The first four days of the billboard campaign will be as follows, with each also including the Web address, Google.com/appsatwork, at the bottom to direct people to find out more about the applications:

"Just heard about going Google. I want to know more."

"Ah. 'Going Google' means switching to Google Apps.

"Wow. Over 1.75 million companies have gone Google."

"Email, shared docs, and team sites? Nice. I want to go Google."

In keeping with Google's green and clean energy aspirations, a company spokesperson told InternetNews.com that the vinyl billboard displays will be recycled.