What Brands Can Learn From Google’s April Fools Day Pranks

Becky Doles

There’s an old adage that says any PR is better than no PR. Over the past few days, many tech companies (e.g. Google) have demonstrated that literally any PR can be a beneficial form of advertising, especially on or around April Fools’ Day. While pitching “fake news” is generally frowned upon, April Fools’ Day is the exception to the rule, a day when bloggers expect to be inundated with fake products, fake acquisitions, and other fake company news.

This April Fools’ Day Google has raised their game to a whole new level, releasing dozens of “pranks” as early as Sunday morning. Google referenced their own products including YouTube, Gmail, Apps, Maps and more in these pranks. Other companies announcing April Fools’ Day jokes include Bing (which “launched” a new SEO tag enabling webmasters to tell the search search engine where they think their site should rank) and Amazon’s “purchase of the English language.”

While this “news” is good for a giggle, these companies – especially Google – didn’t waste hours preparing fake product ideas and press releases just to get a laugh out of consumers. In today’s highly connected society, consumers rely heavily on blogs for not just news, but information about new products. A press release about a product is essentially advertising, as it drives brand awareness, and a well-designed press release, which includes links to an optimized landing page, will help drive conversions.

Google clearly looked to leverage April Fools’ Day to drive not just brand awareness, but individual product awareness and ultimately conversions, as many of their current products were touched by one of its “pranks.” Obviously most people already know about Google’s products, but as these pranks were picked up by almost every major tech blog they undoubtedly triggered more than a few lapsed users back to them. Google was able to use their pranks to reactivate inactive users, and generate new users, of their products, products which include advertising from which Google profits. At the very least, the psychological seed to revisit these products was planted.

For many brands, April Fools’ Day is not a good time to think about driving brand awareness and conversions. The reality is that most journalists dread this day, as it’s becoming impossible to discern “real” news from the “pranks.” (Luckily, the pranks from companies like Google and Amazon were too obvious to confuse with reality.) On the other hand, a press release on almost any other day can be a legitimate, useful way of advertising and driving conversions.

There are three lessons to be learned from Google’s April Fools’ Day pranks. First, be sure the product description in your press release is not only vibrant and clear but also tells the unique story behind the product and your brand. In each of Google’s prank, the company went above and beyond to explain the history of each product, why it was changing, and what impact it would have on users. Second, if you announce your new product via a blog post, as Google did, it’s important to include a clear call-to-action to encourage conversions. While this page doesn’t need to blatantly ask users to sign-up or purchase your product, it should be optimized so users can instantly sign up if they desire. Third, remember to include a very large and visible “Create An Account” button at the top of each product page. Ensuring users can sign up and/or make a purchase at any point of the funnel is absolutely critical to capturing consumers when they’re ready to convert.

Do you think brands can learn any other lessons from Google’s attempts at April Fools’ Day pranks? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Becky Doles

Becky is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at TUNE. Before TUNE, she led a variety of marketing and communications projects at San Francisco startups. Becky received her bachelor's degree in English from Wake Forest University. After living nearly a decade in San Francisco and Seattle, she has returned to her home of Charleston, SC, where you can find her enjoying the sun and salt water with her family.

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