For all the hype about Google Glass, not much has been said about how it's going to change Internet marketing.
Could it be that for all our gadget drool, we're overlooking what could be the biggest Internet marketing explosion of the decade? Or will Google Glass even make a ripple in online marketing?
Let's look at some possible outcomes, lay out the facts, and propose some ways you can be ready for the rollout of Google Glass, and the impact it will have on the Internet marketing world.
For the best perspective on this question, it's best to take a step back and consider Google's marketing strategy. Obviously, Google isn't going to divulge whatever marketing secrets they have for their tricked-out glasses. The nearly-$1,500 price tag is a sign that they're not giving them away for free.
But isn't there more to it than just selling glasses? How might Google capitalize on Google Glass beyond the first wave of sales?
It's a tricky question for several reasons.
Google Glass is unlike anything that Google has done before. Come to think of it, it's unlike anything that anyone has ever done. Humankind is treading into an area of vague outcomes.
There is so much potential for Google Glass that it's hard to get our head around all the possibilities.
There are a few options.
Google has no bigger marketing plans. It's just a cool gadget. It's just technology. Let's take Google at their word and believe the Google rep who said, "We're more interested in making the hardware available, [than advertising on it]." That would be nice. Google may not be completely altruistic, but they may indeed have a pure desire to advance technology in the world today.
Google Glass will fizzle and die. Some people seem to think we've reached the utopia of technology: "Sooner or later [Google Glass] will become a staple in our daily lives," writes one zealous technophile. Then again, maybe not. Forbes contributor Rob Asghar pessimistically prognosticates, "Google Glass seems a longshot to endure past the early fascination of the early adopters." Maybe the Glass will join the Google graveyard alongside Google Reader, Buzz, and iGoogle.
Google will use it for advertising. "At the moment, there are no plans for advertising on this device," said Babak Parviz, lead engineer on the Google Glass project. Operative word:now. Babak said so in a December 2012 interview. Thus, there might be some future chance at advertising revenue. Todd Wasserman at Mashable has suggested that Google Glass will provide coupon offers, personalized ads, and gamification¬ – in other words, advertising on spectacle steroids.
Google is going into gaming, or something else entirely. During the interview cited above, Babak spoke opaquely of "augmented reality." Augmented reality is the realm of gaming. Though Google isn't exactly known for their games, maybe they're trying to edge into the market with augmented reality hardware. This, however, is unlikely. Perhaps when the API comes out and Google releases developer kits, then the gamers will jump in and have their heyday. But augmented reality glasses aren't just the domain of gamers. Those who are itching to get a pair of glasses are excited about using them as politicians, adventurers, farmers, performers, service personnel, military, medical professionals, and nearly every other field of labor known to humankind. Just like we can all think of some way to make a smartphone useful to anyone, so we can imagine that Google Glass will have a similar impact.
Maybe Google is just innovating the future again. As Babak plainly stated, "We constantly try out new ideas of how this platform can be used. There's a lot of experimentation going on at all times in Google."
And maybe that's the whole point. It's not like Google has exactly cashed in on unmanned cars (yet). It's probably safest to predict nothing, while still expecting the technology to shift and shape our world.
Such shifting and shaping is unpredictable. Consider this. You're wearing your Google Glasses, riding the subway downtown with friends. You say the words "hungry" and "dinner," and your Google Glasses inform you that Molinari Delicatessen is a few minutes away at the Broadway & Grant Avenue station. Plus you get a free drink for just checking in on Foursquare. Is that advertising? Is that an invasion of privacy? Weren't you just talking with friends?
Things can get a little blurry.
3 Back-to-Reality Facts
Prophesying aside, what do we actually know about Google Glass? Is there anything that we are confident will happen? There are at least three.
At-a-Glance Search Results
Forget having information at your fingertips. With Google Glass, you've got it at a glance, quite literally. Google Glass responds to voice commands and queries, meaning that users can easily gain results for questions about nearby restaurants or other local establishments. This would provide very little new in terms of search results, but would instead provide a different interface for results, and perhaps more instantaneous searching while on the go.
The technology of Google Glass will make it possible to look at a restaurant, check out their rankings, view their menu, find out if there is seating, and maybe even snag a coupon code, all the while dawdling on the sidewalk out front. Google Glass is primed for on-the-spot activity. There's no hidden agenda here. Google proudly announces that their spectacles will provide "directions right in front of you" for driving, walking, or just knocking about town.
More Social Interactivity
Google Glass will play directly into social networking. One of the main features of the device is taking pictures and videos, and sharing them. Such sharing will provide instant marketing, negative or positive, for whatever establishment or event the user is at. Social reviews will also register on search results, giving users a better perspective on whether they want to patronize a certain business establishment.
Get Ready for Google Glass: A Strategy
If you read this article expecting to get to the Google Glass gold rush early, you might be disappointed. There's not exactly a gold rush going on. Nevertheless, there is some rock-solid advice for how to posture yourself and your business for the unleashing of Google Glass.
Stick close to Google. It pays to keep your ear to the ground about Google trends and developments. What happens in the Googleplex is crucial to your marketing future. As much as we may dislike it, we rely on Google for a lot. When they flinch, we scramble. That's all there is to it.
Keep your Google+ profile robust and active. One obvious trend that will impact all things search related is Google+, along with authorship and Author Rank. Stay plugged in to it. Google+/Local results will be immediately accessible to Google Glass, meaning that you want to get in on those searches.
If you're a local company, focus in on local search results and social media. Google Glass is a geospecific marketing tool. Don't get left behind. Furthermore, there is talk of other social sites like Twitter amping up their efforts to get in on the Google Glass action.