As I’ve said before here, I think technology has enabled what was once static to become interactive, particularly as it relates to the “OOH” channel, which up until recently has been a static, “offline” advertising and communications channel. On one hand, you have the digital display technology that enables those static ads to become digitized and as a result, more dynamic, relevant, and meaningful (digital signage). Those digital “screens” have become more efficient advertising channels for brands, and can even help push consumers along the purchase journey, depending on their placement in a particular environment. I don’t talk much about that kind of OOH here. In the coming year, I want to put more of a focus on it here, but that aspect of OOH has never excited me to the point that the other aspect has. Which is the other hand – on the other hand, you have various enabling technologies that enable those static ads to become interactive, and as a result, actually engaging. It’s the difference between a 1-way push message (the former) and a 2-way push/pull communication (the latter). One is passive. The other is active. It’s the active that really excites me. So, I’m always looking for examples that do just that – take what was once passive and make active through these enabling technologies.
I’ve noticed many of these examples this year through print ads. Whether it be QR codes or MS Tags, brands have really started experimenting with this type of engagement. By no means has it taken off, but it’s an easy technology to include from a production standpoint, so I suspect to see the trend continue to grow slowly in the coming year. I think we still have a ways to go to reach critical mass, but the consumers who actually recognize these codes and take a picture of them have the opportunity to engage with the brand in a way that they wouldn’t have had otherwise.
I came across another such technology in this month’s Wired – Google Goggles. I learned about Google Goggles earlier in the year, and as an Android smartphone owner, it was one of the first apps I downloaded. But I haven’t ever had success with it until now. HTC “enabled” their most recent ad with Google Goggles.
If you’re not familiar with Google Goggles, it’s an image recognition technology that enables you, as a user, to snap a photo of a variety of things – landmarks, logos, print ads to name a few – and then learn more about them through mobile web without “searching.” As with other image reading technologies (like the aforementioned codes), it’s designed to be a convenient way to get information you want about anything in the real world. They’re an ideal technology to bridge the offline (real world) with the online (virtual world).
This particular experience was a good one. HTC, supported by their friends at Google (it runs the Android platform), really thought through this and actually maximized the full potential of creating a deeper experience. Once the picture is scanned, you’re taken to the G2 mobile site (yes, it is a mobile site) where you can:
- view multiple angles of the phone (awareness)
- learn about all of its features, mostly through copy – there’s 1 video that takes you to YouTube – not a great experience (awareness)
- see news releases (awareness)
- see reviews – as of tonight, there are no reviews on the site (awareness)
- see Twitter feed (awareness)
- see G2 Forums (awareness/consideration)
- share with your social communities (awareness/consideration)
- BUY – via your phone, in the most convenient store, and/or later (consideration/conversion)
They have designed this experience to mirror an effective e-commerce site and aside from the Microsoft mobile site I recently experienced, this is the best I’ve seen through any technology like this.
Before I posted this tonight, I came across a Tweet that led me to an article in Fast Company – “What Google Goggles Will Do for the Ad Industry.” The video really says it all.
Agree with everything everyone said here, but I don’t think the only answer is Google Goggles. Like I said, up until now, I haven’t had a good experience with the application. It’s had a hard time reading the “real world item” and I’ve found QR codes/MS Tags to be more responsive, and ultimately convenient. The one thing about Google Goggles is that it is designed to enable to “wordless search” via image recognition – what happens if you’re a brand and someone takes a photo of your product and through Goggles is taken to a Google search where right there in the first listing is a bad review? It seems like there are elements of the openness of this that could work against the brand instead of for them. What do you guys think? Have you used Google Goggles? I would love to hear about your experience, if so.