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Google Glass could enhance the High Street experience but what else can it offer brands?

By Simon Kay

June 26, 2013 | 4 min read

Google Glass, while not yet on release, has the potential to one day replace the tablet and smartphone, although that day is still many years away, especially while there is a poor battery life and an interface which causes nausea. In order to succeed, Glass will somehow have to deliver more, for less.

Despite its limitations, it is a technological concept which could see widespread use, potentially offering countless opportunities for brands and ad firms.

In April, Google released Google Mirror API, which allowed third-party developers to create apps directly for the device, however its terms and conditions have stated that user data could not be sold to advertisers nor could apps have adverts on the display. Google has also stipulated that developers could not charge for apps, which raised the question of how programmers are meant to profit from their creations.

Nonetheless, with the product still in development and a release date still to be confirmed for the $1.5k glasses, much can still change; intrinsically, Google is a company which makes 95 per cent of its revenue from advertising.

Joel Blackmore, senior innovation manager, Somo, described Glass as "an ultra-personal device" and claimed that it meant delivering "appropriate content is more important than ever before." He added; "The simplest thing a brand can do to use Glass as a marketing tool is to find a way to deliver brilliant and relevant content" to users.

“The New York Times has already produced a good example of this with its Glass app. I’d encourage brands to start experimenting with the Glass technology to understand the best ways to deliver their content to users in an appropriate fashion.

“Using Glass and having content pop up in your field of vision takes some getting used to, so having unwanted advertising content would be even more disconcerting right now. Putting the right branded content onto the Glass screen is more important than advertising for brands at the moment.”

Jean-Paul Edwards, head of futures at Manning Gottlieb OMD, said that Google Glass is a marketing platform, and brands should be thinking about how it can make goods and services more valuable, more convenient and more relevant.

“It will be some time before we see any mass uptake but we can easily imagine how customer service could be improved. In a high street shoe shop, Google Glass will allow the sales assistant to advise the customer with live stock levels and style guidelines, all without running to and from the stock room.

“If a shoe is a little narrow then they can advise that they have a similar but wider style in the right size in black or brown, all whilst maintaining eye contact. Special offers based on personal data can be displayed to the assistant.

“However, the degree to which we as consumers will feel comfortable with this innovation needs to be tested in the field.”

Edwards commented that the services, from mapping to live information and offers, can be powered by content from brands. “The brand with the best mapping data for their stores or those with the best semantic data about their products will win out. It will look and feel very much like the early days of search or the social newsfeed. Just as we optimise sites for search and content for social distribution we will need to optimise data sets through the business for a wide variety of machine to machine services of which Google Glass apps are just one set of contexts.”

“As data sets become more crowded a commercial model may become a necessity to allow through only the most relevant information.”

Right now, critics are dismissing Glass as the ‘next big thing’. But television, radio, the automobile, nuclear energy, space travel, manned-flight, the internet, the personal computer, and more, succeeded and changed the world, despite citizens at the time of introduction failing to see the value of the product.

Wearable computing technologies are in their infancy, and society may not yet be ready for the privacy, advertising and constant connectivity issues that comes with them.

Google has to tread carefully at the moment as any bad publicity could sink the product. No ads, no charged apps, no utilisation of facial recognition technologies, nothing that could jeopardise the future of a product come to us from the future.

Google Glass will be a restrictive, ad-free space, for now.

The Drum's news editor Stephen Lepitak recently reviewed a prototype version of Google Glass.


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