Google India's new ads - with Bhuvan Bam, Zakir Khan - for its 'Search' feature tell the story of YouTube influencers' interests and personal lives.
With the pervasiveness of social media in daily life, it is tempting to assume that a user "knows" an influencer, by gaining access to the latter’s private lives every day. This is precisely the insight that Google's new campaign is based on.
It’s the first Google campaign that stars YouTube content creators from different genres. Bhuvan Bam represents the comedy and sketches category, while Zakir Khan represents the stand-up comics, who use the platform for visibility. The campaign also features videos starring Gaurav Chaudhury - better known by his channel's moniker 'Technical Guruji', and Kabita Singh - a home chef, who runs the channel 'Kabita's Kitchen'.
In the videos, the content creators are seen candidly talking to the camera to make users feel as if they are getting a glimpse of their personal interests, apart from their public personas. As the videos play out, we see the creators attempting to establish a rapport with the viewers. The emphasis in all the videos is on Google's ‘Search’ feed - which is a customised feature available for Android phones. The feed emphasises on media discovery based on the person's interests, and uses influencers to drive home the point about diverse interests.
Karthik Srinivasan, a communication consultant, draws attention to the fact that the campaign is still heavily slanted towards Hindi speaking users. It hasn't yet commented on other regional languages like Tamil, Marathi, Urdu, and so on. He adds that the success of the offering relies heavily on it being a sticky product - in which the algorithm understands a user's preferences and, accordingly, displays related news articles to them.
"I like the way the campaign has been executed, but I'm unsure if these ads will convince users to use Google in the way that they'd consume another social media feed. This product relies heavily on the algorithm understanding a user to sell itself - and that may be flawed. Someone may share a video because they're outraged by it. But, the algorithm could misinterpret this as the user taking keen interest on the topic, and may show him more related content - which can be completely counterproductive," he says.
Srinivasan questions the authenticity of the communication from a believability point of view. "By using the influencers, they're hoping to reach out to the audience that they have. But, asking them to act in front of the camera - that makes it seem a little forced. Users are accustomed to seeing influencers act as their most authentic self on their social channels, so this might seem a little odd to them," he concludes.