Google CEO Eric Schmidt is causing quite a stir with this tweet from about an hour ago that suggests Google will run its first major broadcast television commercial during tomorrow’s Super Bowl.
NOTE: This has now happened. See Hell Freezes Over: Google Airs Ad During Super Bowl.
For those who can’t see the image above for some reason, Schmidt said:
Can’t wait to watch the Superbowl tomorrow. Be sure to watch the ads in the 3rd quarter (someone said “Hell has indeed frozen over.”)
Is he hinting that Google will be running an ad during tomorrow’s Super Bowl broadcast? It would seem so.
But, in Friday’s paper, USA Today posted a list of brands that have bought ad time during the game, as well as when the commercials will air. There’s no mention of a Google ad, but it’s possible that Google has managed to keep its ad buy a secret, or that Google asked CBS not to include its commercial on the list that USA Today published. What’s unlikely is that Google just made a last-minute Super Bowl commercial purchase after the list of advertisers was published; CBS announced last Monday that it had sold all its available Super Bowl ad slots.
There is a commercial in the 3rd quarter for Motorola’s MOTOBLUR, a mobile interface that works on Android. There’s also a 3rd quarter commercial planned for KGB Answers, a mobile answer service that competes with Google (and other search engines/services).
But Schmidt’s comment about someone saying “Hell has indeed frozen over” seems to suggest a more direct Google commercial during the Super Bowl. Google has traditionally avoided this kind of advertising, but the company ran TV ads promoting the Chrome web browser last May.
There’s more discussion on Techmeme.
Postscript 2 From Danny Sullivan: This pretty much confirms that Google is absolutely feeling the pressure from Bing. The company has never, ever seriously advertised its core search offerings before in this manner. In fact, Google’s Eric Schmidt last June downplayed the idea that a search engine could gain an audience through ads like Bing was running, saying:
You don’t just buy it with ads. You earn it, and you earn it customer by customer, search by search , answer by answer. And we believe that today we beat our competitors because we’re so focused on comprehensiveness, speed, freshness and having the depth that people really care about.
At that time, Schmidt also said:
We are spending all of our time on exactly what we’ve always done, which is innovation. I don’t think Bing’s arrival has changed what we’re doing. We are about search, we’re about making things enormously successful by virtue of innovation.
Just over a week later, Google rushed out a new “Explore Google Search” page that was advertised on its home page, a way to counter the idea that it was somehow lacking some search features that Bing was getting noticed for (see Google Fires Back At Bing, Launches “Explore Google Search”).
So as I wrote last June when Bing launched:
Google’s never really had to market itself to consumers, to trot its stuff. The recently held “Searchology” event didn’t cover anywhere near the range of what Google offers. But if the praise for Bing keeps largely rolling in — if people keep discovering features that aren’t necessarily unique to Bing — Google may find it has to step up.
I guess Google’s stepping up. Also as an aside, Google did consider a Super Bowl ad back in 2007, to my knowledge. There was a little email exchange that was leaked to me back then. But the ad never happened.