Please, no more articles about how Google has relied on word of mouth to promote its brand. Those days have been gone for several months now, and a recent hire of a European ad agency underscores this.
Google hires BBH for first European consumer ads from BrandRepublic looks at Google having hired an ad agency to embark upon an consumer-focused ad campaign in Europe. Google confirms the agency, Bartle Bogle Hegarty, has been hired to help with a "small project."
Google has already been doing consumer-targeted marketing to a limited degree for some time. We've covered how they've launched a newspaper and radio ad campaign in Kansas City back in May (along with foam hands at a baseball game), targeted consumers in Korea also in May and promoted Google News in Japan in April.
Google's also done outdoor ads to recruit staff, and they've for years spent plenty of money to reach potential advertisers.
I asked Google about the recent consumer targeting moves a couple of weeks ago and may come back to do something more formal. But the short answer from the PR department was that Google knows it's not dominant in all areas, and it will do advertising to reach consumers as it deems necessary and relevant.