P&G Reads Google Data for Marketing

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Procter & Gamble Company (NYSE:PG - News) has taken up an innovative way to market its new product, Vicks Behind Ear Thermometer. It is using the data of the famous search engine Google Inc. (NasdaqGS:GOOG - News), to identify the regions that are most flu prone, and thereafter the former will send advertising messages to the people in that region.

Google tracked the address of several flu-related Web searchers from 2003 to 2008, and formed a database of most flu-prone regions. The database was developed to help public health officials and health professionals to better respond to seasonal epidemics.

Google also devised a formula to estimate regional flu activity with a reporting lag of roughly a day.  It formed a predictive model called ‘Google Flu Trends’, which gained a significant edge over the only other available database on flu, C.D.C. flu reports, which typically take a week or two after outbreaks to be published.

The advertising messages of Vicks Behind Ear Thermometer will target only the mothers of the flu-affected patients of the flu-prone areas, and only thiose mothers who are within two miles of retailers like Walmart Stores (NYSE:WMT - News) and Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT - News) that carry the thermometer. So, Vicks, which is a line of over-the-counter medications owned by the American company P&G, decided to launch a mobile campaign along with Blue Chip Marketing Worldwide.

Vicks claims that the new thermometer measures fever in a very non-invasive way, without disturbing the child and also points that the location’s proximity to the carotid artery, which carries blood to the brain, ensures accurate readings.

The advertising campaign was launched  on a minor scale starting this month, and will get underway on a full scale during January and February, which is the peak season of flu. 

Many other retail giants are also relying on online applications for their marketing purposes. Walmart Stores went closer to its customer’s hearts and recently decided to launch its first Facebook application, Shopycat, to help its buyers choose gifts for their friends online and avoid the holiday season rush.

In early November, EBay Inc. (NasdaqGS:EBAY - News) launched an online service, Group Gifts, that connects eBay shoppers with Facebook friends to collectively purchase presents.

Currently, we prefer to be Neutral on P&G’s stock. Furthermore, P&G holds a Zacks #3 Rank, which translates into a short-term ‘Hold’ rating.

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