Thursday, April 5, 2012

Where's the revenue in Google Glasses?

The Google Glasses preview seems great. It seems feasible, releases are expected pretty soon and there is some intuitive appeal to the idea (and some intuitive questions as well). If you have not seen the preview, you should.

A number of parodies, of course, already exist and one is remarkably interesting and touches upon important marketing and revenue issues.

This parody mixed Google's Adwords advertising in the picture thus making it a lot less attractive, and a lot less convenient. It is a pertinent parody since, of course, Google is an advertising medium and ads were not part of the preview. You can watch the paradoy here. [Note that the Youtube author posting the video is "Jonathan McIntosh" which, phonetically, is quite a nice joke when it comes to Google criticism]

Is this the way Google will make money with the Google Glasses and earn back their investment? No, probably not. The user interface is just too inconvenient to stuff it with all these ads. Of course, if there is room for only one ad, this top spot will be worth much more than Google's current Adwords top spot. Still, I believe there will be other ways Google will make a profit out of this product.

Remember, if the service is free, you are the product. Of course, the glasses won't be free, but they are expected to be reasonably priced, at least competitively compared to other devices providing the same functions in a not so cool way. So, how will they do it? My bet is on the following options:

Advertise in the augmented world. Remember Google has been awarded a patent to advertise in Google Street View? I believe they have not yet used it, but if the Google Glasses come with a disclaimer that what you see is actually a mix of real and augmented reality, I guess they can just advertise on buildings and even on actual billboards along the road. Spooky, but possible.

Get even more valuable data about the user. The Glasses will not replace computers. You will still use a computer or smartphone or tablet. Linking up the information Google will receive from the Glasses user, is far superior to the location based info smartphones and other devices provide nowadays. Google will not only know you entered a Starbucks, they will also know what coffee you drank and whether there were others you shared a table with. Put that into a database and targeted ads reach the next level.

Subliminal advertising cues. They have long been a hoax, but finally there is some real possibility for advertisers to do stuff subliminaly (though we still need to tackle the ethical aspects of it). Vicary made us believe he could prime the attendants of a movie theater so as to spike consumption, but in fact he did not. There have been some real demonstrations more recently, but there are serious boundary conditions that make it a hassle to transform it to reality. But with Google Glasses there will be a realistic interface. Just like car windscreens of the future will give subliminal cues for where to look (because the car suspects danger), Google Glasses could give cues on where to look, for instance when shopping. These cues, if properly timed (and if the hardware is able to do it), will not be visible but will focus your attention on a particular part of your visual scope (be it a shop, or a specific product). Again, there can only be one advertiser at the time, but there's a big return on the "ad".

Do you think of any other way to make this profitable?

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