Why Google Owes TV a Big Thank You

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Every day, Google processes 3.5 billion search queries. That’s an average of 40,000 per second. And while Google deserves a ton of credit for its success and dominance, it may want to send out a few “Thank You” notes. A most worthy recipient, in my opinion, would be the television industry and its advertisers.

Everyone talks about the effect that Google has had on traditional advertising, but the reverse effect isn’t the subject of a lot of discussion. The television industry can blame itself for much of this. It hasn’t done a very good job of connecting the dots — of drawing a line between the airing of a commercial and the viewer’s online search for information about the advertised product.

Think about the Super Bowl and the halo effect of the commercials that aired. Millions upon millions of viewers responded to those commercials by Googling the names of brands, products and services. They prompted viewers to Google for more information about cars, online retailers and cleaning products.  

A strong link between TV and digital is there. We see it every day. When people view a TV commercial that interests them, they naturally go to Google for more information. The challenge for many marketers is the application of “last click” metrics, or the complete separation of digital and television. Advertisers often assume that because the order arrived through Google or other digital means, the source was digital.

The reality is Google doesn’t motivate a search. It simply enables it. No one randomly types in the name of a brand, product or service. It all starts somewhere else. To see the big picture, one must look at these cross-media connections. You need to focus on the synergies, not the divisions, that exist between TV and digital. Clearly, many digital companies, including HomeAdvisor, Expedia and GoDaddy, see this cause-and-effect relationship. Companies like these rely on television advertising to help grow their businesses.

The more we think about Google as a destination, and less as a starting point, the better we’ll understand its connection to television. And maybe, just maybe, the TV industry will receive a kind note in the mail with a return address from Mountain View, California.

Article originally featured by the Electronic Retailing Association.