For many years Google was one of the last companies avoiding mass media advertising (though they’ve done it outside the US). That stronghold ended the last SuperBowl, with the now famous (and parodied) Parisian Love ad:
Even web companies with true fans reach a point when branding becomes necessary to grow a market that’s getting crowded. With many people starting to explore Google’s products and services, an ad that is relevant and tells a powerful story only helps to conquer more users, responding to needs that later get extended to their professional choices (think AdWords or Google Apps).
This need for branding for web companies will become even more evident the next few years, as startups try seduce advertisers by getting more reach and visibility. But instead of using the eyeballs approach, we’ll have a more combined branding approach.
Foursquare, the location based game, and their recent partnerships with Zagat or Marc Jacobs is an example of this sponsorship leveraging a web brand, . Other examples include ExecTweets with Federated Media and Microsoft or even more tactical approaches like the Let It Shine commercial for Honda and Vimeo.
Larger brands should take notice of these opportunities, by teaming up with web brands on relevant, win-win partnerships. As for web companies, Branding, even on a different form, is one step to leave their Beta label behind.