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Do all those flashy tech launches work? Yup, just ask Google

Remember Google I/O? No? Let me refresh your memory. At the tech giant’s annual developers conference, it launched not one, but two new products — its Nexus 7 tablet and the Nexus Q music player.

Lauren Granger
While studying towards her Bachelor of Journalism degree at Rhodes University, Lauren gave into her fascination with everything digital. As she was more interested in creeping... More

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Then it announced the new version of the Android operating system (Jelly Bean). Then Google co-founder Sergey Brin walked on stage to and casually started a Google hangout with some skydivers, who then leapt from a plane wearing pairs of Google’s augmented reality glasses and live-streamed the descent.

Unsurprisingly, the event generated huge buzz around Google, Android and those futuristic augmented reality glasses. There were numerous liveblogs and a livestream on YouTube. The event’s hashtag trended worldwide on Twitter, and tech blogs were filled with headlines like “Google Wins The Internet With A Live Skydiving Demo Of Google Glass.” The fact that Google gave the Twitter-happy attendees a free Nexus Q, Nexus 7 and the chance to pre-order Glass didn’t exactly put a damper on things. It’s a good example of an event that was talked about around the globe, and spread by thousands on social media, gaining even more brand awareness for the tech giant. But how much would it have cost to attract the same media exposure through traditional advertising?

Millions. According to a recent report by social analytics company General Sentiment which calculates the value of buzz generated by online news and social media, Google generated an estimated US$756-million worth of media exposure in the second quarter of 2012 — much of which was thanks to Google I/O. There was so much buzz about the company, that it bumped Google up to the number one spot on the list of top 100 global brands — knocking Apple down to second place. The fruity tech company earned an estimated US$594-million of online attention.

General Sentiment Global Brands Report

The amount is calculated by quantifying the level of discussion and sharing online, regardless of sentiment. So if the US$197-million of Twitter buzz that Google generated was composed entirely of “Google sucks” tweets, we’d be none the wiser. But it’s working off the idea that all news is good news, as the exposure these brands are getting is driven by social media users, bloggers and online journalists. While the company does work out the biggest brands using sentiment analysis, it’s not included in the report — it only lists the top 10 ‘winners’ who have gained the most positive buzz since the previous quarter.

The findings are interesting when you study them alongside major product launch dates. You can see how the secret invite-only events and launches significantly boosted tech companies’ online attention. During the previous quarter, Apple came out top with just under $US1-billion in media value. What did Apple do in the first three months of this year? It sent out a sneaky invitation to the press which simply said “we have something you really have to see. And touch” which had tech websites analysing every pixel, until it officially launched the new iPad.

Microsoft (which has held the third place in the global rank so far this year) generated around US$356-million worth of online buzz in the same quarter it launched the Surface.