Seattle Real Estate Blog by David Monroe

Will Google’s Marketing Blunder Cause Them To Lose Market Share?

Will Google’s Marketing Blunder Cause Them To Lose Market Share?

Oops!Google just made a huge marketing blunder today, in my opinion.  In celebration of the 30th anniversary of Pac-Man’s release, Google replaced the “doodle” on its search page with an interactive, playable Pac-Man game.  I think the general idea was very creative and a good move overall.

Where they dropped the ball was by adding the Pac Man theme music and sound effects to their search page.  The sound effects also run continuously as long as you’re on Google’s homepage.  While this may seem fun to many, it was such an annoyance to me that I removed Google as my default home page and started using Bing as my primary search engine for the day.  I had never really used Bing for searches before, but I’m pretty impressed so far.  Maybe I should allocate some of my pay-per-click marketing budget to Bing as well.

My primary browser is Firefox, and for some reason the Pac-Man theme now plays on my laptop every time I open my browser, even when none of my browser tabs are on Google’s homepage.  I even removed the Google search box from my browser toolbar and turned off Google Desktop to see if that would get rid of the sound effects.  It still won’t go away.  I must have some Firefox plug-in that’s accessing Google’s homepage in the background.

Some people may say that this annoyance was a great marketing strategy by Google, because everyone is talking about it.  However, that really is only a benefit if you don’t already have most of the market share.  For example, if Microsoft did something like this on their Bing search homepage, I think the strategy would have worked for them, because all the talk from the press and social networks would have driven more people to Bing who had never tried it before.  I think it will have the opposite effect for Google.

So, what does all of this have to do with real estate?  A while back, my real estate team did a marketing test with virtual home tours and found that visitors stayed on the virtual tour page significantly longer on average when there was no background music.  A lot of people surf the web at work, and the quickest way to get them to leave a web page is to have music or other sound effects playing.  Of course, this doesn't apply to media like videos, since website visitors expect sound on videos.

I suppose with the marketing expertise and resources that Google has, there may have been some incredibly sophisticated marketing strategy behind this.  However, if there is, I must be missing it.

Authored by David Monroe, Real Estate Associate and Short Sale Specialist
The Home4Investment Team at Keller Williams Seattle Metro West
Phone:  (206) 905-8590

Comment balloon 4 commentsDavid Monroe • May 21 2010 02:16PM


How does the saying go?  Any press is good press.  Maybre that's it.

Posted by Kerry L Klun, Broker/Owner, 321-626-5868 (Palm Realty) almost 9 years ago

I know everyone here has been talking about it but we all use Internet Explorer so we haven't had the problem with the continuous music. That would drive me nuts! And, on the track of sites with music, I have to say I HATE when I go to a site that has a little pop-up person talking at me and you have to hunt for the little "x" to make them go away. Non-media sites should make sound an option!

Posted by Mike Martin, Realty Masters & Associates ((909) 476-9600 ~ almost 9 years ago

I just went to Google's homepage a few minutes ago, and the sound is now off by default.  The sound comes on now only if you play the game or click the speaker icon on the doodle.  Good recovery, Google.

Posted by David Monroe, Short Sale Real Estate Agent (Keller Williams Realty) almost 9 years ago

David, I never heard the sound because I had my speakers off.  But I did click on Bing and tried it, it was pretty fast and good.

Posted by Kevin Cavanaugh, Lic. Associate Broker, ABR, GREEN (Keller Williams Hudson Valley Realty) almost 9 years ago