Inside Google Marketing: Bringing Digital Thinking to Offline TV

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To drive the Google app usage in Australia, Google Marketing partnered with The Voice to serve relevant, contextual ads. Product marketer Julia Donnan reflects on bringing digital and contextual thinking to an innovative TV campaign.

Just by saying what they need, Aussies can get assistance from the Google app. “When will my package arrive?” “Where’s the closest cafe that’s open now?” “Play my running mix.” Thursday, three blocks south, and playing now.

The Google app is the ultimate tool in the mobile world—but only if people use it. While the app has been downloaded millions of times in Australia, data showed that millennials hadn’t yet realised how many ways it can help them discover the world around them.

We knew that simply telling people that the app is great wouldn’t cut it. For hard-to-convince millennials, we had to show them what the app could do—to really allow them to experience it firsthand. For that, we had to both become a part of the conversations people were already having and give them a specific reason to experience the app. That’s where The Voice Australia came in.

Providing utility in culturally relevant moments

The Voice is a hit in Australia—especially among young people. Viewers can directly affect the outcome of the show by voting for their favourite artists, sharing videos, and posting on social media. The show combines two of millennials’ great loves: music and their smartphones.

We knew we had the right show, so how to seamlessly incorporate the app into the experience? Well, we worked with our product engineers to add voting functionality to the Google app itself to make it the simplest and fastest way for always-on millennials to vote. Throughout the show, viewers were encouraged to download the Google app and vote right then and there.

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Offering real utility encouraged people to download the app. From there, we created a media strategy to remind people how the app could help them as they went about their daily lives.

Showing Australians what the Google app could do with relevant, real-time ads

Once we had people using the Google app to vote, we wanted to showcase the app’s other helpful use cases for millennials. We took some notes from the online playbook of contextual, real-time ads to the offline space, creating bespoke ads that directly tied to what was happening in each episode. The real-time ads had shorter lifespans than traditional TV spots, but would be hyper-relevant to what people were watching in the moment. Over nine weeks, we manually created 20 contextual ads by taking the live performance footage, editing it in real time, and broadcasting it to Aussies during the very next commercial break.

For instance, ahead of a show day when an elimination took place, we created a shell for our creative that included a Google app feature like “Flip a Coin." As soon as the moment aired live, we sat in the editing studio with the show's production team, spliced together the best footage, and dropped it into the TVC to air only a few minutes later. Viewers would be delighted by the ad’s timeliness and see the simplicity of the app’s functionality.

Not only did we run the ads on TV in real time, but we also ran them across YouTube and social to reach cross-screen millennials in the moment.

Another example: In episodes that featured melt-your-face-off guitar solos, we aired this ad to show people how the Google app could help them learn to shred.

Knowing that people’s phones are never far from their side as they watch TV, we also produced display ads and social posts that played off the buzz of the live episodes to remind people of the utility of the Google app. Run on YouTube, Facebook, and across the web, these ads showed users how to set reminders to practise guitar, translate song lyrics from other languages, and even how to use the app to easily search and find those backstage selfies. The team also live tweeted during each episode, creating GIFs using footage from the show and commenting in real time.

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Real-time campaign strikes a chord with Australian millennials

The campaign ensured that we were with Voice watchers at every step of the way—from voting to sharing to browsing the web. Thousands of people voted for contestants through the app, and we saw a +19% increase in brand favourability among our millennial target.

Reacting within moments to live performances across social made the Google app an engaging part of the online conversation at just the right time. Our view rate surpassed category benchmarks by +139%. Overall social engagement was +26% above benchmarks—our most successful Google app campaign to date.

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Most importantly, by giving people a reason to try the Google app, we were able to actually change their mobile search behaviour. Those who voted via the app continued to use it daily at a rate 9% higher than those who didn’t. Music to our ears indeed.

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