Aishwarya Ramesh

Google's new ads focus on Internet safety from a business owner's lens

The ads by Lowe Lintas show how business owners can stay safe from malware, phishing attacks, etc., by using Google Tools.

Google’s latest ad campaign puts privacy in the spotlight. The campaign by Lowe Lintas features entrepreneurs and SME business owners, who are shown using Google Tools to carry out daily tasks pertaining to their business. More interestingly, the ads highlight how Google Tools help keep them safe from scams and phishing attacks. The Tools also help keep their privacy intact and their businesses running smoothly.

The ads feature the story of an accountant, a travel agency owner and a restaurant owner. All of them are advised by their elders to not trust anyone blindly. This metaphorical element of 'trust' and being wary of strangers finds parallels in anonymous SMSes, scam emails and phishing attacks, as shown in the ads.

The ads also emphasise on the fact that Google Tools can be used to execute tasks that small businesses need to undertake, while keeping them safe from malicious Internet attacks. As part of this effort, Google has also launched a user education campaign in multiple languages, to bring attention to common threats, like phishing, malware and fraud.

The last time we saw an MNC focus so much on small Indian businesses, it was Amazon. In a series of ads, it focused on telling the stories of small businesses and owners, who used the platform to make sales.

In late August, we had covered Google’s ‘Be Internet Awesome’ program for kids’ safety in India. The program was designed in partnership with leading comic book publisher Amar Chitra Katha, to create Internet safety lessons across eight Indian languages. As a part of this initiative, it also launched an enhanced Google Safety Centre.

Google's new ads focus on Internet safety from a business owner's lens

Google's latest initiatives are supported by a series of global policies that it recently introduced. These include product changes to Google accounts for people under 18 across YouTube, search, location history, Play and Google Workspace for Education.

As a part of this program, Google also rolled out an ad film (created by Dentsu Webchutney) that highlights how Internet safety is of utmost importance for kids, who are now spending more time on the web – thanks to COVID-induced lockdowns and online schooling. Developed in collaboration with online safety experts, 'Be Internet Awesome' provides tools for kids, parents and educators, including a free web-based game and a classroom curriculum.

Critiquing Google’s privacy push

Shubhajit Sen, founding partner, A Priori Consultants (former CMO of Micromax), points out that it is likely that Google’s latest campaign was borne out of two things. One, as a result of the environment and, two, as a result of the competitors in the space.

“From the first lockdown onwards, people were spending more time online. Many Indians, for the first time, started financial and commercial transactions. This has led to an increase in online security issues, like phishing, fraud and harassment.”

Shubhajit Sen
Shubhajit Sen

“From a competitive angle, Apple has taken on the mantle of being the privacy protector, globally, with its latest iOS releases. It has also emphasised on privacy in India, and ran campaigns on it.”

“Digital privacy is a subset of online security. The former is important to a sliver of Indians, while the latter, especially securing financial transactions, is of concern to everybody, including SMEs going online for the first time due to the lockdowns. The Google campaign feels right at the moment and should reassure the vast majority of online Indians, who use Android as their OS of choice.”

Sen recalls his time at Micromax, and tells us that advertising in local languages has been a popular trend since mid-2010s.

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