Google Goggles has been around for a year now. While the concept of visual search is not entirely new, the last 1 or 2 years has seen some fascinating applications like Augmented Reality and QR codes. The QR code space has gotten a little crowded and with the lack of standardization across different companies that make these codes, there is a risk of too much fragmentation. Google may have broken new ground with a simple experiment involving Goggles and some real world marketing campaigns.
Google’s blog announced the experiment last night. 5 brands will work Goggles to “extend their offline marketing campaigns into the mobile web”. So far Buick, Disney, Diageo, T-Mobile and Delta Airlines have signed up to be a part of it. What they’ve done is ensured that some of their ads themselves are “Goggle Enabled” so when you shoot them through the app it gives the user the option to click on a link that will take them to the mobile web part of the campaign. This way they’ve sidestepped a lot of the problems that brands face with QR codes.
In a video explaining the experiment, Google says that they came up with the idea because a lot of people were ‘Goggling’ ads. Now while this does unlock new potential for the monetization of visual search, Mike Melanson of RWW expresses his concern over the possibility of visual search being over-run with advertisements. When you fire up an application like Layar or Google Goggles, what would you rather see? Content or Ads? or Both?
The feature is certainly powerful but its final utility and usability depends on how marketers and google shape it. If they want it to be just another to way to broadcast information and bombard us about how good their brand is, it will probably turn people off. On the other hand, if marketers take the effort to devise intelligent use cases for an end user/prospective customer like say Movie Previews from a poster, or up more relevant information on a T-Mobile Ad like whom the contact to get a new connection as quickly as possible etc then it has a real shot succeeding. The premise is simple, if someone has taken the trouble to ‘Goggle’ an ad, they’ve got their attention. The key to the success of this experiment lies in the marketers’ ability to keep that attention and maybe even reward it. Discounts anyone?!