Google Breaks Mobile-Focused Effort During NFL Opener Tonight

App Promo Includes TV Spots, Real-Time Banner on New York Times

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Google's newest marketing campaign centers on mobile. So does the search giant's future.

On Thursday Google will debut the first phase of a multi-year campaign to promote the company's rebranded mobile app and its voice-guide search feature.

The campaign -- which will span TV, digital, out-of-home and print -- will premiere with a 30-second TV spot to air during the NFL's opening game Thursday night on NBC and a real-time banner ad on The New York Times site.

The campaign's launch coincides with a rebranding of the company's flagship mobile app from being called "Google Search" to simply "Google" and underscores the company's prioritization of mobile.

"There's a commitment to invest over a longer period of time to really get the Google app to the position we want it to have in the world. This is the core of the company. This is what we do at our center. This app and experience is really essential to making sure that as the world spends more and more time on mobile devices, Google's relevance only grows," Google's VP-branding Jeff Whipps said in an interview.

Google is running a banner ad atop The New York Times home page that will be updated in real time. Writers from Google's creative team and 72andSunny will write search queries that tie into the newspaper's top news stories and will appear in the banner ad slot atop the newspaper site's homepage in real time. The writers will be coming up with queries "that are going to the next level on any particular topics that are trending for The New York Times," Mr. Whipps said.

As an example of the campaign's out-of-home elements, Google will post a sign in famous New York restaurant Katz's Deli that will carry search queries related to the food establishment.

Mr. Whipps declined to disclose how much money Google is spending on the campaign, but said the push "ranks up there with our most significant investments you've seen historically along the lines of Chrome and Play and others."

As with seemingly every other digital media company, mobile is quickly becoming the dominant channel that people are accessing a service or site. Google doesn't break out its traffic figures, but company exec Matt Cutts said earlier this year that he "wouldn't be surprised" if mobile search overtook desktop search this year.

"No question that our goal is to have more and more people start to see the Google app as an indispensable go-to app on their mobile devices and think of it as the first place they turn when they have any kind of a need, within reason," Mr. Whipps said. He declined to share what percentage of Google's mobile search queries take place through the company's mobile app compared to its mobile site.

While it's unknown how much of Google's mobile audience is using its app versus its mobile site, Mr. Whipps made clear why Google is touting its mobile app instead of mobile site. "The fact is we have innovations and functionality that live in the Google app that we can't actually deliver through a browser," he said.

Among those features is Google Now. That uber-assistant service connects to different tools like someone's calendar, email inbox and device location and can automatically notify someone when they need to leave for the airport to make a scheduled flight and pull up the email with airline information.

Google Now is expected to eventually be a focus of the campaign, but the marketing efforts' first phase will highlight the app's voice search, incorporating the "OK Google" command that triggers a voice search query.

"It's a good illustrative, symbolic leap forward in terms of the Google experience we want people to know about. It sets very clearly a distance between the Google people have grown up with and become accustomed to and maybe even taken for granted and the Google of the future," Mr. Whipps said.

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated, based on information provided by Google, that Google had created a branded newsroom with The New York Times that involved members of the newspaper's staff and would be opening a mock version of Katz's Deli. Ad Age regrets the error.

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