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Google India: Searching beyond borders

By Satrajit Sen , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital | November 19, 2013
Google India has struck an emotional chord with its new campaign that promotes its search product. The question is, what's the point of a three and a half-minute film when Google already enjoys a 97 per cent search market share in India? afaqs! explores.

It is said that Google finds an answer to everything! Connecting an instance of the 1947 partition era with the present times, Google India's latest campaign has struck the emotional chord to promote its search product. Released on November 13, the Google Search: Reunion ad from Google India is emotional and engaging, and has already garnered over three million views on YouTube.

Google India's new campaign

Google India's new campaign

Google India's new campaign

Google India's new campaign

Google India's new campaign

Sandeep Menon

Abhijit Avasthi

The campaign comprises a playlist of five ads, including 'Fennel', 'Cricket', 'Anarkali' and 'Sugar-free', but the most widely circulated one is 'Reunion'.

The campaign will hit television screens on November 25 and target a very select audience. It was launched on the web first and now, Google will showcase the ads in theatres coupled with a focused campaign on TV featuring both the full ad and the four short ones.

The Idea

Conceptualised by Ogilvy & Mather India, the film is a reflection of a similar user case where a sort of reunion happened.

Speaking about the campaign idea, Sandeep Menon, director, marketing, Google India says that the company wanted to do something special, which was also very, very Indian. "We have been working on user cases, and a few of them told the story of the youth using our services to bring people who have been separated, closer. So, the idea germinated from there. It wasn't a traditional brief as such. We wanted to spark conversations - thus, bringing in the whole neighbouring country idea. The bigger theme is the role of the youth in bringing about change," he says.

"The brief we had received was to bring Google Search closer to people in India. People have been using Google for some time, but we needed to inform them about its various uses. Because come what may, in whatever form, Google actually leads us to what we are looking for," says Abhijit Avasthi, national creative director, Ogilvy India.

Google Maps, in October 2013, had featured the story of Saroo Brierley, who spent 25 years searching for his biological family after getting separated from them at an Indian railway station. With the help of Google, however, Brierley was able to find his way back to the home and family he never thought he'd see again. Google released an ad summarising how that happened.

The Big Question

Google is probably the first thing that comes to mind when we talk about the internet. The search engine is one of the most loved brands of the current generation. The question is what's the point of making a three and a half-minute film when Google already enjoys 97 per cent search market share in India?

Menon says that the company wanted to strike up a conversation to showcase the different uses of Google and at the same time, tell magical stories that show why users love the product. "One of our core philosophies is that our users are smart and intelligent. Hence, the attempt was to have a conversation and tell users that they can do a lot more, and a lot quicker, by showcasing some of the innovations that allow the product to be used in different ways," he adds.

However, Menon does agree that it took Google a long time to be ready with something that it wanted to share. "From a performance marketing perspective, this film follows our 'Start Searching India' campaign that was launched last July. The campaign showcased many of the new innovations that Google search has rolled out. Innovations like flight search, theatre timings for movies and language translation help users save time, and get to-the-point answers to their most common queries. Many of our users have not picked up on these. With this campaign, we hope to get traction on that," he says.

As explained on a personal blog by Himanshu Gupta, a mobile industry expert, Google also sees a future where more searches will happen on mobile devices. As per Statcounter data, mobile is already 62.5 per cent of traffic on Google India as compared to 37.5 per cent from desktop . So, Google knows that more and more of its target users are on mobile and not on desktops.

Hence, the "Reunion" ad starts with a desktop experience of Google and shifts to a mobile only experience and newer integrated services such as flight information and weather. "Internet is really changing the way we live and the youth is driving the change. Through this campaign we wanted to highlight how youth can bring about a change and address it in a way which people across age groups can relate to," Menon adds.

Google has been promoting its products in many ways quite extensively in the recent years. In December 2011, Google India extended its 'The Web is What You Make of It' campaign with a spot about Tanjore paintings, an ancient Indian art form that seems to be fading away from the modern world. In July 2013, Google India launched 'Start Searching India' campaign which was aimed at simplifying the web for the country's internet users. The objective of the campaign was to help simplify the web for Indian users, showing how they can get instant answers to their most common queries.

"We are constantly trying to figure how we can communicate the many benefits of internet to average Indians and get them online," informs Menon when asked about Google's marketing strategy in India.

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