For reasons I have not yet put my finger on, I still occasionally tune into Saturday Night Live. It hasn’t been the truly great show it once was in over a decade, but out of some kind of routine (or self-punishment) I still check it out. This weekend marked the season finale, and the usually-reliable Justin Timberlake served as host. Lady Gaga was the musical guest. And while there were some good skits and songs, the reason I’m ultimately writing about Saturday Night Live today has nothing to do with the episode itself. Rather, it’s because Google ran a television commercial during the broadcast. 

Unlike most tech brands, Google doesn’t run a lot of television ads. Apple… Microsoft… you see ads for those companies on television every day. But not Google. You might remember their awesome “Parisian Love” spot from last year’s Super Bowl, which got a lot of press because Google is not known for advertising on TV–and also because it’s a fantastic commercial. Here’s another look, in case you never saw it:

Google Goes Back To TV With Chrome Ad

For whatever reason, last night’s SNL finale was Google’s choice for their next big television commercial. I suppose it might have something to do with the company’s relationship with Lady Gaga. Back in March, the singer spent a day at the Googleplex and filmed an hour-long interview with Marissa Mayer–she talked about how her high school friends wanted to get jobs at Google, but she wanted to be the thing everyone was searching for (mission accomplished, I’d say).

Perhaps that day-long meeting was the birthplace of this new Gaga-centric commercial? In it, she interacts with her fans through the power and speed of Google Chrome. Take a look:

The spot is good, but I’m not sure it will resonate with people who aren’t Gaga fans already. However, considering her impressive fan base, that means the ad will appeal to millions. So, in regard to picking the single hottest celebrity on the planet to serve as their spokesperson… Google hit a home run here.

The placement of the ad is no coincidence either, since Lady Gaga was SNL’s musical guest–Google had to know legions of her fans would be watching

Why Chrome?

Of all the products Google has to promote, why Chrome? Actually, I think that’s an easy one. Chrome’s the product that needs advertising. Think about it… in the search engine marketplace, Google is head and shoulders above the rest. They have a consistent market share near 70%. Why spend millions on advertising that might, at best, gain you one more percentage point?

In online video… YouTube has no equal. Again, why advertise something everyone’s already using anyway? And Android–while not the marketplace king that Google Search and YouTube are–is absolutely on fire.

But while Chrome has certainly shown impressive growth over the last year, it’s still nowhere near the top of browser heap. There’s still a lot of room for continued growth. It’s not nearly as dominant as many of Google’s other products and services.

I’m not sure the commercial shows Chrome doing anything that other browsers can’t do, but I also don’t think that was the point. The point was to show Lady Gaga fans that their favorite singer is a Chrome user, and that might just be enough for many of them to switch.