The search giant's app that tracks flu related web searches is being used by the megabrand to advertise their behind-the-ear thermometer to those in high contagion areas.

During the colder months of the year, consumers will be familiar with the sight of advertisements from pharmaceutical companies offering protection from winter bugs. Now, Vicks — a Proctor and Gamble brand — has used data compiled by Google to specifically target mobile devices in high-risk flu areas with ads for their Behind Ear Thermometer.

Google correlated flu-related web searches from 2003 to 2008 with actual data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Their findings were used to create a flu prediction model, “Google Flu Trends”. Vicks wanted to market their thermometer to mothers, and, according to the New York Times, employed Blue Chip Marketing Worldwide to place ads within popular apps such as Pandora. All the apps targeted were already collecting basic user data, such as gender and whether the user was a parent. This meant that by incorporating the Google flu data, the ads could be sent only to mothers in areas experiencing high incidences of flu. What’s more, the ads were only sent to those mothers who were within two miles of retailers that stock the thermometer. Tapping the ad revealed a video of the product, plus the closest stockist and directions.

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