Google was once famous for its lack of advertising. But today the search giant is installing a billboard in the world’s most famous ad space, Times Square, touting the value of its display ad business.
Google built itself around search advertising, and 90 percent of its revenue still comes from these text based ads. That has led to a 17 percent drop in the company’s stock this year as Wall Street worries about Google’s next step.
The new 35 by 13 foot billboard is intended to trumpet Google’s entry into the display ad business. It’s part of a broader campaign, Watch this Space, with spots running in print and online.
“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,” Neal Mohan, a vice president of product management, told the New York Times.
Online display advertising is a crowded and competitive field, and Google is late to the party. But in recent months it has been one of the company’s fastest growing divisions, with major brands like Ford, Kodak and Armani signing on.
In an attempt to highlight the innovation they will bring to this space, Google decided to skip the usual Times Square trick of placing a billboard high above the crowd. Its ad is just three feet off the ground, but features touch sensitive video screen that people can interact with.
Google may have another reason for choosing this historic location, message control. Back in early September the group Consumer Watchdog used Times Square to run video spots depiciting Google CEO Eric Schmidt as an evil ice cream man, giving away free cones to neighborhood kids in exchange for the right to conduct a full body scan.