Sometimes the internet can be a pretty funny place. April Fools Day is one of those days; with marketers and developers sneaking in a slice of their sense of humor into your daily web consumption, you never know what to expect.
Google took advantage of April Fools Day back in 2000 with the MentalPlex hoax which would anticipate your request by evaluating over 1.3 billion variables, all by staring at an animated gif of the spiral on the right. According to Google’s documentation:
Using proprietary predictive search algorithms developed through 13 years of research by an international consortium of PhDs in the fields of artificial and pseudo-intelligence, parapsychology and improbability, MentalPlex is the only search engine that accurately returns results without requiring you enter a query. Google’s CEO and co-founder Larry Page calls MentalPlex “a quantum leap in finding what you are looking for on the Internet. Typing in queries is so 1999.”
Hilarity ensued and page-views skyrocketed as links were emailed around and eventually the Google MentalPlex “went viral”.
Google kept the April Fools Day jokes rolling right along this year too. The best one that I came across happened when I logged into my Google AdWords account and saw a notification regarding a new advertising platform Google had just rolled out.
You guesed it:
Google AdBirds promises to “take your advertising to new heights by placing ads on real birds.”
It appears to be a pretty straight forward process, just add in your message for the beak, head, wings and tail feathers, click the Let It Fly button and wait up to one business day to have the ad reviewed.
But not so fast…
Google Maps: Pokémon Challenge
The folks at Google AdWords weren’t going to be the only ones having April Fools Day fun. On Mar 31 Google Maps posted a video on YouTube, announcing:
Dozens of wild Pokémon have taken up residence on streets, amidst forests and atop mountains throughout Google Maps. To catch ’em all, grab your Poké Ball and the newest version of Google Maps for iPhone or Android. Then tap the search bar, “press start,” and begin your quest.
The video had over five million views in less than 24 hours, spreading virally through social channels like Twitter and Facebook.
Some people were experiencing the Pokemon Challenge just by using Google Maps on their phone. I had a friend text me saying “There are Pokemon in Google Maps” which intrigued me enough to go searching for Pokemon. (I did spend more than a few minutes finding them.)
Judging by the list of April Fools Hoaxes on Wikipedia, Google has spent a considerable amount of time, energy and resources developing these hoaxes.
Why you ask? Because these April Fools Day jokes generate page-views, interactions and ultimately drive traffic.
What can we learn from this?
Obviously most businesses don’t have the same resources Google has to devote to April Fools Day marketing, however you can use existing channels and means to get your message out.
A great example of creating an April Fool’s Day campaign while using existing channels can be seen in an email blast that Newegg sent out touting their new Petegg Program featuring Mr. Nogginz.
Getting this information in your inbox might pique your interest enough to click through to their website, where you get the message to:
“enjoy the TOTALLY SERIOUSLY great deals as well as the rest of the April 1st Newsletter”
Newegg did not have to invest a large amount of money or resources in order to get this April Fools joke out. It relied on its existing newsletter mailing list and its existing newsletter software to create a fun and creative email blast that was timely and relevant to the customer base that it reached.