Internet trends: marketing research & predictions

Google Wave: Invite Led Viral Campaign

October 22nd, 2009 by


Search Engine giant Google, has shown the world how it is reshaping the way communication happens over the internet with the soft launch of Google Wave. And it has done so in a way it knows best – through invite based viral marketing.

The internet witnessed tremors of excitement when 100,000 exclusive invites to Wave were sought after by surfers who were curious, passionate, and addicted to Google.

A sense of Déjà vu is hard to avoid. Google sent out similar invites when it launched Gmail in 2007, to build hype. Privileged invites led marketing has been a potent weapon that Google has learned to wield well, and with Google Wave, it intends to go for a big kill.

Google revels in its buzz creating potential and it only has a colorful launch history backing it. A slew of chatter broke out over Social media networks when Google announced the release of its browser Chrome. While some questioned Chrome’s ability to take on the big browser share held by IE; most conversations, powered by positive industry review, focused on the browser’s speed.

The launch of Google’s Android and Search Wikis did not whip up a buzz to match its earlier success with hype generation. As discussed in our previous article Android’s initial buzz raised a lot of doubt over the web and has cast a feeble spell online. SearchWiki too suffered a similar plight. People were annoyed by a sudden forced change in the way they searched the web and considered it a rather arrogant move on Google’s part to not allow people to turn off the SearchWiki function.

The story so far

Google Wave was first unveiled to 4000 developers at the Google I/O conference back in May (read the Google Blog). Since then the product demo video, doing the rounds on the internet, has had over 5 million hits on Youtube and has set the www abuzz. There are close to 500 videos discussing Wave through product demos and reviews.

Wave is, by far, Google’s most ambitious project and is a work in progress online tool that enables real time communication and collaboration. It works by incorporating a host of commonly used features such as email, IM, rich media sharing, wikis and social networking.

Nature and focus of buzz

The buzz surrounding the ‘by invitation only’ test launch is almost as exciting as the product itself. It has helped build hype for Wave’s commercial launch next year. Within minutes of the announcement, Wave invites were being auctioned on E Bay for a price of $5100 – Google Wave invite hits eBay, price soars. These astronomical bids were however retrenched after the existence of the invite was questioned by eBayers.

Spurring the invite buzz were spurious websites that mushroomed all over the internet luring the frenzied masses with invites to Wave.

The invite has been an object of interest on Twitter. Early reviews discuss the features of the product in great length while there has been a growing concern over the confusing and complex nature of Wave. People on Wave are unable to invite their friends to use the product with them and this has been a subject of grouse for some since it limits their Wave usage.

Stats on Google Wave

A few quick observations

Google Wave has certainly captured interest although long term sustainability is still a question.



Blogs have seen an overwhelming 15,500 posts since May 09 making it one of the much talked about and searched about topic on the Web. The phrase ”Google Wave invites” have had over 1000 posts since September 29th


source: Google Insights

India has had the highest search volume for Google Wave followed by Sweden and Singapore. 



Twitter saw over 1000 tweets per minute as Wave became the Trending Topic; Invites and the way to get it was the focus of the discussion.

Some of the tweets read

@iRyanS: @wave_info Requested my Google Wave Invite! Get your now at – #googlewave #googlewaveinvite

@mikebros: I finally got a Google Wave invite – a bit like waiting for a bus – I waited for ages then 4 offers came on the same day! #@googlewave

Industry Reviews

Stephen Shankland, Cnet News:

“ I acclimated rapidly, too, but I can see how the multi-edit chaos could be distracting even if you know what’s going on. If you’re the kind of person who can talk on the phone, send a text message, IM, and surf the Web at the same time, you’ll be fine with Wave, but most of us have only so much attention span to go around, and Wave has the potential to overtax”.

MG Siegler, TechCrunch:

“As we’ve noted several times, Google Wave is a service that is fairly hard to explain. And for many people, it’s also hard to understand. That seems somewhat reasonable given that it’s trying to be a new form of communication and that it is still very early in its life span”.

Ben Parr, Mashable:

“And while we’ve received our fair share of questions about Google’s newest product (most of which we answered in our Google Wave guide), one keeps popping up time and time again: how do I get an invite to Google Wave?”

Trendsspotting Insights


The buzz about the invites has been crucial to the successful soft launch of Wave. But, Google’s foray into the social networking space is yet to undergo the acid test and its success will depend on its ability to address the skepticism that currently surrounds the Wave.


Google’s Wave generates successful social waves. That’s a good marketing case study – the buzz surrounding the “wave invites” overcomes the wave itself. Having said that, I also believe that the revolutionary shift from personal email to the social email will impact Google’s brand strength. If only the wave will not be too difficult to adopt.


Dhivya Subramanian is a new contributor to The TrendsSpotting blog. Starting with the Wave, we at wish her success surfing the big waves ahead.
Here is her bio:
Dhivya started her career in Advertising and worked with Agencies like Ogilvy and Mather and Euro RSCG. She serviced clients like Dell, MindTree, Indian Bank and Titan. During her stint at advertising Dhivya has assisted in developing direct marketing campaigns, executed events and helped in launching communication in international markets. In her last job with Millward Brown she worked as a research executive and was involved with Brand and communication research. She evaluated the ‘Jaago Re’ – a social awakening campaign for Tata Tea, designed a celebrity study for Mindshare and formulated market research functions for TVS Motors Ltd.
On the personal front, Dhivya is a foodie, wannabe long distant runner and a passionate blogger.

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2 Responses

  1. Crasty Says:

    Interesting and informative. But will you write about this one more?

  2. What’s the Plus? Giving Google Plus a second fair chance | Says:

    […] to try. When Google launched Google+ I was there anticipating that Google must have done it right this time . It was more than three years ago when I suggested that Google will “pagerank” and “map” […]

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