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Google's ad strategy focuses on the heart, not the head

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Over the last two years Google has shifted its advertising strategy with a series of web and television commercials that focus on the emotional, real-world experiences its products can provide.

Google "Dear Sophie" Ad
Google "Dear Sophie" Ad

Google has been stepping up its promotional game with a focus on the softer, more human side of its services. The New York Times takes a look at the new approach, which started around the time of last year's "Parisian Love" Super Bowl commercial. That ad used Google search engine results to tell the story of a young couple falling in love, and has since been joined by numerous spots for the Chrome browser, Google+ social network, and other Google products. They all demonstrate the company's services in ways that resonate with a broad, non-technical audience: a new father documenting the life of his daughter, or a woman discovering her future boyfriend through Google+. "As we got bigger, we had more competition, more products, more messages to consumers, so we needed to do a bit more to communicate what these products are and how you can use them," Google's Vice President of Global Marketing Lorraine Twohill told The New York Times. "It's about emotion, which is bizarre for a tech company."

While tugging at the heartstrings may not be as odd as Twohill infers — Apple has used it to great success over the past decade — Google's ads do excel in telling emotionally-compelling stories; earlier this year the company released an inspiring Chrome spot that also promoted Dan Savage's It Gets Better support project for gay and lesbian teens. The strategy appears to be contributing to Google's larger success, with Chrome experiencing 84 percent year-over-year growth in 2011, and coming in as the top web destination in the US for 2011. Google+, however, may still need another ad or two.