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Google aims at commuters with Google Apps ads

For a month starting Monday, billboards in four major U.S. cities will push the Web-based Google Apps service as an alternative to traditional office productivity software.

Some commuters will see billboards such as these touting Google Apps for a solid month.

Google is taking its marketing strategy for Google Apps to the next level by renting prominent billboards in major U.S. cities.

Commuters in New York, Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco will be greeted by a progressive series of ads for Google Apps starting Monday and running for a month. The idea is to catch IT managers stuck in horrific traffic spots like New York's West Side Highway or San Francisco's U.S. 101 and press them on the benefits of switching to Google Apps with a different ad for each day of the week.

Google has steadily increased the drumbeat behind Google Apps over the past several months, openly touting it as an alternative to Microsoft's suite of office productivity and e-mail software with customer testimonials and applications designed to make the switch easier. The company said 1.75 million organizations are now using Google's online services for word processing and e-mail, which is still a drop in the overall bucket but growing.

Traditionally Google hasn't been big on ads, but it has produced TV spots for its Chrome browser and posted a cryptic series of job ads on Silicon Valley billboards years ago.