Home » Advertising, GermFeed, online marketing, online media, social media, video

What is GermFeeding? Explained by Google Marketing Methods

23 October 2008 10 Comments

What is a GermFeed? And how did it change marketing paradigms? I coined this phrase- to explain some marketing phenomenon and I’ll try to explain it’s significance by the way Google markets its products. Or Maybe I think they do…

I like the way Google does things. As a matter of fact, I am a fan. But is everything they do- noteworthy? A look into the past and the future of Google’s Marketing…read on

Google has a *nack* of doing things in style-from developing a great search engine to developing a business model that changed the face of all advertising on this planet- to the way they market their products. Their IPO was innovative, their work culture is pioneering and everything about new products raises the bar. On everything that they do, you want to talk about it, have your opinion around it or be the first one to know about it- so you can share with others and appear uber- in all your vain glory.

THAT to me- is the crux of their marketing. Not just generate talkability- but ‘feed’ the talk. Simple- but *very* effective.

Let us trace some of the memorable stuff they did.

Circa 2005: Gmail launches- everyone in Google’s position would’ve loved to solicit and get the crowds- when the competition is with Hotmail and Yahoo- (and in a category which is like gasoline- little perceived differentiation)- you promote like mad and cross your fingers. Google says- Sorry. This is invite only! The next thing you know- it *burns* desires- what the heck- it even starts selling on ebay- people *paid* to be a part of that experience. History! That model has been followed many times since then and will continue to get followed. (Do you know of any other example where a brand tried this tactic? Please enlighten in comments)

Every hype has a life cycle. How could they enhance the “hype life cycle” ?(seems today is my ‘phrase coining’ day). How could they beat the iconic hype that surrounded their own launch?

This is how-> They make people participate in a video with gmail (Gmail M-velope) in it- and it becomes an epidemic (they should come up with better words connoting ‘good spread of ideas’- ‘viral’ and ‘epidemics’ have disastrous and somewhat distasteful- just like ‘tsunami’… Seth Godin coined “IdeaVirus” which is better- but then again- it has a ‘virus’ in it)

[youtube qKAInP_tmHk]

Many other Google products have been marketed by slowly seeping into the everyday world- by sheer distribution power and innovative underground marketing- if you use  Google Analytics (2005/2006), iGoogle (2007) OR Google feed reader- you know what I mean- some of these are propagated/seeded through Google parties/events and some of them through industry experts propagating how to use the product (Kaushik on Analytics). Some, like Gmaps and Google earth (2005) seep into everyday lives by sheer adoption by web publishers by allowing ease of integration- the product itself becomes a marketing tool here- so the base product still is a great product but its marketability enhanced by the fact that it can easily be manipulated for your own use.

This is what I would like to term as ‘GermFeed’ (Feed (tools/content and other enablers) given to the germ(concept/idea) to breed(spread/distribute) ) I know it has the word ‘germ’ in it- but germs can be good as well- ever had youghurt? Or a shot of antibiotics? A GermFeed is an enabler- (the same as bacterium in milk curd the entire milk). It could be anything- from ‘viral’ content to widgets/gadgets and apps to enablers like- tools for the blogosphere that can feed their insatiable desire to look cool, informed, share intelligently or simply help ‘pimp’ their virtual presence.

Then came Chrome(2008)- a web browser-now how do you differentiate this one? Explorer rules PCs and Google’s own product Firefox has a cult following. Not to mention others like community browsers , ‘no frills‘ browsers…and what not…

How would you usually frame the marketing content in such a scenario? Preach the features, highlight differentiation and yet retain public interest? Yet again- they develop ‘GermFeed’-a cartoon strip explaining in detail the unique propositions of the Chrome browser.

GermFeed for Google Chrome

GermFeed for Google Chrome

Google “GermFeed’ for Chrome

A neat idea- explains the product features in detail (that itself becomes GermFeed in the sense that people can manipulate that information to make their own content and distribute. But they make it interesting by the concept of a comic book- specially appealing to programmers/tech guys (nerds like comic strips- no research- I just *think* they do) who they want to be early adopters and then influence the rest of us. Neat. And classic.

Circa 2008- here comes Android- Google’s platform for mobile apps. As it nears it launch, there seems to be an eerie silence -marketing wise- Which is good, because the hype around iphone 3G was too ‘noisy’ and it was easy to fade in all that noise. But then, since it already seems to be available unofficially, and there are multiple stakeholders (Telocs/app developers) this time- the marketing surrounding the product- edges to being tacky. Agreed it might not be abetted by Google (or TMobile for that matter) but tacky none-the-less. And its out there.

Look at this video developed by an Android forum – and you will know what I mean. Content is Passe (bordering on being unpleasant) and hey- building excitement with a rap video?
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bk9aImCTqE]

Or maybe this is the marketing this time around. The platform is itself an extreme form of GermFeed- the germ here itself gives rise to many other ‘mutants’. Developers develop a product(mutant germ) on the platform (original Germfeed) and then distribute and promote it using yet other germfeeds (the video)- so they can monetize or get fame.

This deserves more posts- heck I thought I will write short posts from now on. Too excited!

Till the next time- be  part of this exercise- and sharpen the concept- can you give me a few examples of GermFeed that you might have come across? Is there something you’d like to add to this? A coffee for those with the most relevant observation (I decide;) )