From Android to Randoid

Crossroads of the World

Claire Cain Miller, writing from the left coast for the New York Times‘s Media & Advertising space today, reports on a new Google campaign to draw attention to its display advertising business.

What’s curious about the story — other than the idea that relatively few knew about this dimension of Google’s primary revenue stream — is just how Google intends to display its display advertising capabilities. Miller writes:

“…it has picked one of the most crowded advertising venues to get the message out — Times Square.”

Google (AP Photo via Business Insider)

Yes, folks. Google has succumbed to the bright lights of the big city (versus those short text-driven contextual ads that appear alongside and atop Google Search’s organic results rankings and elsewhere).

So let me understand. Rather than a targeted search campaign (SEM) to capture prospective display advertisers, the world’s most innovative online advertising company has chosen to target the random masses in Times Square to drive its future fortunes.

Maybe Google’s communications team took notice of how much buzz was generated with the recent Times Square Jumbotron display of Consumer Watchdog‘s 90-second video castigating Google chief Eric Schmidt on the firm’s privacy policies? Whatever the motivation, this initiative will not require the craning of one’s neck. Rather, it’ll be a hands-on affair. From The Times:

“Google will erect a billboard in the center of Manhattan that will vie for attention with the hordes of other flashy billboards. But it will stand low to the ground and invite passers-by to touch it and watch videos about the display ad business.”

Here’s how Google rationalizes the irony in the company’s decision to go offline to promote its online offering:

“One of the ways we could express our confidence in the space is to run what is primarily a display advertising campaign around our investment in the business and what our potential is,” said Neal Mohan, the vice president of product management responsible for Google’s display advertising products.”

I still wonder how the company that invented online advertising efficiencies could pick such a far-flung venue to connect with prospective digital advertisers. Sure, the 364,000+ randoids that pass daily through Times Square is impressive, but this crossroads of the world is hardly the most direct means to Google’s revenue creators.

Then again, there’s today’s editorial pop in The New York Times (and elsewhere) that could very well justify Google’s Broadway debut.