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Guest Opinion: Google Needs an Infomercial

15 Jan, 2010 By: Doug Garnett Response

Google needs an infomercial. So does Kindle — and so do many new technology products for consumer use.

Truth is, the value of most technology is hard to see and harder to understand. Infomercials reveal that value, showing consumers why the technology is meaningful. Even better, infomercials do this while reaching a mass consumer audience as well as the growing market of home-based businesses.

Why Google?
Google is an excellent example of a company that needs an infomercial. Its engineers have put heart and soul into an array of online products that position Google for excellent additional profits. However, the innovations are unknown outside Google and a few early adopters.

Google could capture this lost opportunity if it chose to communicate with an infomercial. And when it did, it would drive short-term profit while building brand value to box out future competitors.

From Bold Risk Taking to Risk Avoidance
It’s always been clear that the tech companies that take the smartest risks develop the most exciting new products. But once they start to communicate, tech companies often lose this boldness — leaving superb technologies to fail through risk aversion.

Many technology companies seek communication safety with the local outlet of a multi-national agency. This agency’s name may make investors happy. But for new products, its work nearly always fails.

Other companies dislike the investment required for communication. So they try to succeed on the cheap, hoping consumers will discover products online. I love the power of social media. But it’s not the way to drive a new product release.

Infomercials ‘Cross the Chasm’
To understand the power of an infomercial for technology, consider Geoffrey Moore’s book “Crossing the Chasm.” Moore identifies the large chasm that separates the earliest “innovator” buyers from the much larger “majority” markets.

In my experience, the only companies that cross the chasm quickly have in-depth communication. Infomercials work whether your product is software or hardware; Internet-based or mobile services.

Some technologists think they’ve moved “beyond” something as old school as TV — much less paid programming. But they haven’t. Today’s TV is more vital and alive than ever. And today’s technology infomercials feature innovative, high-quality products.

These infomercials are exciting, fresh and highly compelling. They engage consumers with vital and up-to-date messages. And they drive activity everywhere — online stores, brick-and-mortar retail, mobile service consumption and catalogs.

An ROI Medium
Infomercials deliver outstanding ROI and are one of the lowest cost ways to reach a mass audience. When executed to sell directly, profits from sales can pay for most, if not all, of the media investment. When used to acquire new customers, infomercial lifetime value is generally higher than the value of customers acquired through other channels. Even better, they introduce new products faster and with more strength than traditional advertising methods.

When considering the use of long-form DRTV, evaluate an array of agencies, using a few key pointers:

  1. Be thoroughly strategic. Strategy and research up front will dramatically increase your success.
  2. Don’t be distracted by long lists of clients. These lists may reflect a long list of failures. Look for your agency to be a long-term partner.
  3. Listen and learn. Consider agencies that listen to you and will be able to articulate things that your current team hasn’t been able to.
  4. Know the long-form difference. Avoid agencies whose work looks like extended versions of 30-second spots.
  5. Integrate your campaign. An agency must integrate your infomercial with PR, traditional media, social media and online efforts.

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