Recently, you may have noticed that Google is running ads on television. Here’s a sample for those of you who have not happened to catch one yourself:

The first one that I can remember aired during the Super Bowl this past year. In their rise to search engine superpower, they rarely relied on anything more than word of mouth. When you build a great product, sometimes that’s all it takes.

Now, Google is a fully mature company. They have competition, legal battles, overseas growth, etc. They are a corporation, and no longer a startup. They have to worry about investors, law suits, governments, etc. And at the end of the day, they have to make sure that the consumers still use their products.

And so we get to 2011, and we get Google commercials. Well designed, true life stories from people who used Google in one way or another to accomplish something. But what are they really for?

One theory is that these commercials are for investors, a sign of strength. Another is that these commercials are for consumers who may have lost a little trust in Google because of various claims about privacy made by competitors and special interest groups. And still another is that the commercials are aimed at other companies, showing them whose boss or who they should look to partner with if they want to succeed.

Regardless of who they are for, it means one thing. Google is now past the “hot tech company that everyone loves and can do no wrong” phase. And it’s costing them money.