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You know Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) as an omnipresent entity of the Internet. Everywhere you look, you'll see a Google search box and a couple of AdSense ads. The company is a bigger online deity than eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY ) , Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN ) , and Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO ) combined, counting by market cap.
But when you close your laptop, silence the smartphone, and unplug from cyberspace in general, Google disappears. As big as Google is online, it hasn't made a serious impact on your offline life. Yet.
Big G is out to change that. Google TV will bring the Android software platform into living rooms this fall, which gives Google access to that big screen you're watching when you're not online. The company is running ads for its ad services (meta-advertising?) in trade magazines for marketing professionals, hoping to raise awareness of its online marketing tools to those who don't venture far into the digital world. And this week, Google gets a screen installed on the iconic Times Square canvas of sensory overload in New York City.
It's not just a simple display running Google ads in the real world, but an interactive thing that asks passers-by to launch videos explaining what Google ads can do for you. Yep, more ads for Google's ads. Maybe they'll get through to someone, someday.
Joe the Plumber tends to know that he can buy Christmas gifts from Amazon and sell the ones he doesn't like through eBay. He's probably had a Yahoo! Mail account since the late 1990s, whether he uses it or not. But even if he uses Google in some way every day, he'd be hard pressed to explain the difference between that and Yahoo! Search or Bing. As for online ads, they're just part of the background on his favorite Web pages. You mean there's a company behind that?
Google is like air or water or electric power to many consumers -- always there but you don't really think about it. The company is trying hard to lose that invisibility and raise a few extra dollars of revenue in the process.
Will Google ever lose the online-only label? I think so, but it'll take a few years. Air your own opinion in the comments below.