Why Did Google Advertise Its Search Engine?

Google's Super Bowl ad for its search engine was the best commercial of the night, as far as I'm concerned. But the Wall Street Journal's Martin Peers asks a fair question: "Why did Google choose the one product it doesn't need to advertise for its first Super Bowl commercial?"

It's worth breaking the question down a bit. Why wouldn't Google want to advertise its main driver of revenue?

Sure, you could argue that Google isn't facing much of a challenge in the search market. Despite a heavy marketing campaign from Microsoft, Google added more than twice as many searches as Bing in December, according to Peers. So why not advertise another product, like one of the Android-based phones, which face stiff competition from iPhone and BlackBerry?

My theory would be that Google is still protective of its search product (which generates 97 percent of its revenue), especially as the market moves off computers and more people search on their phones where they might not have the same muscle memory to type in "Google" before every query. Indeed, my BlackBerry defaults to Bing and the iPhone is rumored to switch its default browser to Bing, which could take significant trafic away from Google's placed ads on mobile devices. In addition, I'll bet Google wanted to take a shot at Microsoft, with an ad that said: We know you can launch a $100 million marketing campaign for Bing, but we can make the whole world talk (and maybe also cry) with one $3 million ad in the most high-profile TV event of the year. That last part clearly worked out nicely.