In Business Standard

A recent visit to the Japanese consulate helped me in designing my latest business card. It has nothing but just the Google logo and my name in the search box.   Let me walk you through my experience”

While waiting at the reception of the Japan consulate, I picked up a few magazines lying on the table. My knowledge of the Japanese language begins and ends with the word ‘sayonara’ and that too if it’s written in English! While flipping through the magazine whose language was Greek to me, I noticed something familiar about the advertisements. Some of the ads had the Google search box while few others had the Yahoo! search boxes as part of their advertisements.  That’s when it struck me. What a wonderful strategy. Instead of putting in the website URL, you encourage the person to just search for your company or brand. It’s much more easier to remember the keyword as against the URL.  Whoever came up with this concept has actually been paying attention to the way people use the web browser. Most people use the web search to easily get to a website.  That’s the same idea I used for my business card too. I love the idea for various reasons. First, its unique. Second, googling for my name not only throws up my website ( it also shows my Flickr page, my Twitter account, my YouTube page, links to my podcasts and my writings on the Nasscom blog. That’s like hitting four mangoes with one stone.  I noticed that this idea of putting in search boxes is also an excellent mobile strategy. Typing in the full URL in a mobile phone can be quite painful and it becomes easy to just search for a company’s name. No wonder most advertisements inside Japanese trains have the search box embedded in them.  Pontiac does this in its TV ads. Instead of the generic URL, they have “Google ‘pontiac’ to find out more”. When doing so, you must also realise that you are at the risk of losing out the mileage to a quick thinking competitor. At times like now when Search Engine Optimisation is a billion-dollar business, there are specialist agencies that work solely on bringing a particular website on top of a web search. So, you don’t want your competitor reaping the benefits of your advertisements.   Pontiac made exactly that mistake. While it made sure its site came up top, it did not pay attention to the sponsored links section. When one searches for ‘Pontiac’ in Google, you get its competitor, Honda’s ad on top. Big mistake. Just to play doubly safe, companies are encouraged to buy the top Google ‘sponsored adword’ so that their link is guaranteed to be on top of the search page.  The UK government has also used this technique effectively. It recently started a campaign called ‘Act on CO2’ to encourage people to cut down on the carbon emissions. On the TV advertisements, rather than saying “Visit double-yoo double-yoo double-yoo dot dee eff tee dot gov dot yoo-kay forward-slash act on see-oh-too”, they just say “Search for ‘act on co2′”. The same concept can be effectively used in radio advertisements.  It’s just a matter of time before we see this practice happening in Indian advertisements too.