Along with the Thanksgiving-themed Google doodle gracing the Google.com homepage in the U.S. today (this year, it’s a Thanksgiving Day parade with Google’s letters as balloons), Google is also using the valuable advertising space below the search box to push Google+ and other Google properties. The homepage text reads “Hang out with the whole family this Thanksgiving,” but after clicking through, you’ll discover more than just tips on using Hangouts’ video chat.
Instead, what Google has created is a guide to many of Google’s services, including, in addition to Hangouts, Google Play, Google+ for iPhone and Android, the Google app for iPhone and Android, Google Docs, Google Knowledge Graph, Nexus, Chromebooks, Google Shopping, Maps, and more.
For those already familiar with everything Google, there really isn’t any new or interesting information contained here, as it’s clearly meant to introduce Google’s services to mainstream users who will hit up the search engine after stuffing themselves with turkey in order to get details on Black Friday sales. (Shopping, of course, is one of the highlighted sections in the new guide, pointing to Google’s now pay-for-play Google Shopping vertical and Google’s indoor maps of malls).
That being said, there are some good examples in this guide to impress those with less familiarity with Google’s offerings. One especially fun demo is of Google’s semantic search integrations collectively known as Knowledge Graph. Here, it’s put to use showing off sports stats. A search for Detroit Lions’ Matthew Stafford includes the entire team’s roster pinned to the top of Google’s search results page, in a scrollable, clickable lineup. Handy.
This isn’t the first time Google has used its homepage as advertising space for its own properties, but it’s the first time so many different Google properties have been featured all at once. In the past, we’ve seen other homepage ads for things like the T-Mobile G1, the Droid, the Nexus One, the Nexus 7, and Google Chrome, for example. Because Google.com is usually ad-free and not for sale to others, it’s always notable when Google decides to take advantage of the most valuable ad space on the Internet for itself.