Google: We’re All About Branding -- No Wait, We’re DR!

By Aaron Goldman, VP Marketing & Strategic Partnerships

I couldn’t wipe the wry smile off my face after reading AdAge’s interview with Google’s “Chief Economist” Hal Varian last week.

In the context of “Why Google Really Is Recession Proof,” Varian espoused the virtues of Google being a direct marketing company. Per Varian, brand advertising is more “pro-cyclical” and “when the economy goes down, it goes down.” Direct marketing, however, is “definitely not pro-cyclical… direct marketing is a staple.”

I just love how the Google chameleon changes colors as needed to adapt to the marketplace. I remember not too long ago that Google was hyping itself as the greatest thing for brand advertisers since, er… tattoo ads? And, as John Battle pointed out, Google’s even buying the keyword “brand advertising.”

Now I’m not going to get too deep into the whole Brand vs. Direct Response discussion. The truth is Google, and search marketing at large, lies somewhere in the middle of the Brand/DR continuum. There are times (and strategies) that search is a great at driving brand awareness and times (and strategies) where it’s great for DR.

As I discussed in my Recession Schmecession post, it doesn’t matter whether Google’s ad platform is geared towards brand advertisers or direct marketers. What matters is that during a recession people search more as they try and stretch each dollar. For that reason, Google will continue to grow despite overall marketing budgets being cut.

Whether or not marketers spend money to reach people when they just start their research (i.e. head terms used for awareness) or when they are ready to buy (i.e. brand or tail terms used for direct response), when times are tough, search marketing is still a better, more accountable use of a marketing dollar than TV, radio, or print. And that’s why Google investors should not fear a recession; not because Google is or isn’t a direct marketing company.

Posted by: Aaron Goldman, VP Marketing & Strategic Partnerships


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