Google, with a reputation as one of the best search engines on the Web, is moving to market itself.
The Mountain View, Calif., company, founded by two Stanford University students, awarded its anticipated $5 million ad account to Pickett Advertising, San Francisco. Print ads and radio spots break in June.
Google, which has built a following by word of mouth, presents itself with a simple, fast-loading home page that is almost all white with a single search bar. Instead of banner ads, which can slow a page that is loading, Google sells sponsored text links.
"The future is very bright for Google in terms of people liking it," said Danny Sullivan, editor, of the SearchEngineWatch, a search-engine critiquing site. "[Google's founders are] smart people and they have some big backers. Search is very much a proven product."
Google's backers include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sequoia Capital, two high-profile venture capital firms.
ONLY 17TH AT HOME
Mr. Sullivan noted, however, the 2-year-old site is not a big player in Internet traffic. Google drew 2.6 million unique visitors at home in April, 17th among search engines, Nielsen/NetRatings reported.
Mr. Sullivan said what sets Google apart from rivals is its link analysis. It rates pages based on the number of other pages that link to them and the importance of those links.
"Google is focused on speed and accuracy," said Jack Boland, president of Pickett Advertising.
Earlier generation directories and search engines, such as Yahoo! and AltaVista Co., have morphed into portals and media companies as they grow their advertising revenue bases. As a result, their home pages brim with everything from banner ads to special offers and shopping malls. AltaVista responded this month by launching a Google-like separate, streamlined search site, Raging Search.
Google also sells its technology to other sites, including America Online's Netscape Communications Corp. and Washington Post Co., and has a search engine for wireless phones and hand-held computers.
The win was the fourth addition to Pickett's roster this spring, bringing billings to about $70 million.
Other wins include the $12 million account of Headland Digital Media, the digital publishing arm of Pearson, publisher of The Economist, The Financial Times and Penguin Classics.
Pickett also added MarketFusion, an e-services company for buying and selling electronic production materials, and the $20 million Longs Drug Stores account.
Copyright May 2000, Crain Communications Inc.