Google has created a great mystery this morning. If you go to Google’s homepage (see below) and click on today’s Google doodle, which is an image of a UFO, it takes you to to a general search for the term, “unexplained phenomenon.” Moreover, as of this writing, two of the top Google search terms are the aforementioned “unexplained phenomenon” and “top 10 unexplained phenomena.” What is baffling to many Web surfers about the Google unexplained phenomenon phenomenon is that typically, a Google doodle corresponds with a particular event such as a holiday or the birthday of a famous person. But that does not appear to be the case this morning.
Google has created a classic chicken or egg conundrum. Are “unexplained phenomenon” and “top 10 unexplained phenomena” top search terms because of the Google UFO doodle – which suggests that Google is purposely driving traffic to those topics – or did Google create the UFO logo in response to the popularity of the search terms “unexplained phenomenon” and “top 10 unexplained phenomena”?
The Google unexplained phenomenon incident raises an interesting question: How much influence does Google have in terms of driving the news? It seems as though if Google chooses to, it can create a tremendous amount of buzz on any topic by simply creating a Google doodle that is representative of that particular topic.
It never occurred to me before today that the Google doodle has the potential to be a potent form of advertising. For instance, some are speculating that the Google UFO doodle is connected to the release of the film “District 9.” If this is the case, it is rather subtle form of promotion. But imagine the possibilities that a Google doodle could provide to a studio interested in a more direct form of promotion. I can envision a situation where a studio, say Disney, would pay Google big money to create a doodle that would drive traffic to the website of a new film.
But the Google doodle could also be used to advance a political causes as well. The possibilities are endless. As far as I know, the Google doodle thus far has primarily been used to bring attention to events such as holidays and the birthdays of famous people.
But what if the Google doodle were to be used for more commercial purposes? Would it be a source of controversy? Would it give an unfair advantage to those who could afford to pay for it? Could it create a situation where Google could be accused of advancing a personal agenda?
Google UFO Doodle