Google Glass and marketing: welcoming Big Brother with open arms

Posted: Tuesday 10th June 2014 in eCommerce Technology, Paid Media, Thought Leadership.
Google Glass

Glass is Google’s bid to get into the wearable technology market

Google Glass

Glass is Google’s bid to get into the rapidly developing market of wearable technology. Up against the likes of Samsung’s range
of Gear smartwatches and an as yet unknown but hugely anticipated piece of kit from Apple, we are in the midst of a race similar to that of the first widely accepted smartphone.

From a marketing point of view, I hope that Glass wins. Why? Well, let’s look at the possibilities of having a head-tracking, forward facing camera on consumers.

Online and offline tracking linking

Similar to Apple’s iBeacon concept, Google is planning to use smartphone locations to track signed-in Chrome users as they enter stores, giving retailers the opportunity to use push notifications. Glass could open up additional opportunities to interact with and track customers in store. For example QR codes could be used to help Glass connect the wearer with the retailer. Placed in visible positions in stores the codes would “check-in” shoppers; a concept that is being coined as “Landing”. Codes next to the price of an item will activate a “page view”. This could be used to show the customer the product page for the item or perhaps a review site. Not only would this improve the customer’s experience by assisting them in finding the best toaster (for example), but this viewing activity could be tracked to see what your customers are looking at while in your store, like a live in-store eye tracking system.

Retailers could also include codes next to the customer display on the cash register to track the “conversion”. With this data, tracking the Glass wearing punter through your store, what they saw, what information they engaged with, what they bought, even where they walked becomes possible. This data, only existent in marketers’ dreams until now, has a way to exist in the real world.


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Tracking offline advertising visibility and impact – Google’s pay-per-gaze

Glass might also be an unlikely friend for offline channels that have struggled to prove their value as data rich digital channels have risen to prominence. Google has filed a patent that could make pay-per-gaze (PPG) tracking a reality – that is to identify head orientation or eye tracking to pick up whenever an advert offline is viewed. Google have attested that they don’t plan to build products based upon this any time soon but this doesn’t stop other people trying. Glass could potentially track every time anybody views your logo, promotion or billboard. How about being able to gather all of this tracking on your competitors too? If that still isn’t enough, stitch these offline impressions together with online impressions from the same account to get a true view of the purchase journey, whether it starts or finishes online or offline, with data equivalent to that only available for online display currently.

User Experience

The possibilities of Glass even extend to User Experience (UX) teams. Imagine using Glass data for head tracking. Imagine a version of Glass with eye tracking, something that will be necessary for the fun commands like winking to take a picture. That has real potential for a UX team who currently have to set up very expensive eye tracking for data that could soon be available from the punters themselves. So for example a customer will land on your website, Google Glass will recognise the site and identify that they currently have an eye-tracking UX survey, the Glass will ask the customer if they want to participate and in return get a £25 gift voucher to spend on the site. They agree, the tracking starts, the £25 voucher code is added to their basket and everyone’s a winner.

Experiential meets gamification enhanced by augmented reality

Gamification, experiential marketing and augmented reality have all been used by retailers and brands in the past 4-5 years as a way to bring their brand to life and create engaging experiences for consumers. But Glass could help bring these three powerful marketing techniques together into a super interactive and highly effective footfall driver. Imagine a game where ‘quests’ or ‘challenges’ pop up occasionally and require the user to take an action, ideally in close vicinity to, or inside of, your store.

Let’s say that you sell hot steaming cups of coffee, a quest pops up on Google glass as people exit the tube station in the morning and directs them to just outside your coffee shop’s front door. Now all of a sudden you have increased footfall. Offer them a loyalty card with bonus stamps if they share the experience on social media and you’ve acquired a new customer, potentially made them a loyal one and got them to share the experience with their network. Powerful stuff.

For a more in-depth view of this concept, this video is a good starting point, even though the host appears to think that this is too far (skip to the 5:00 mark for the relevant section).

But what about data privacy?

There will also be big, and very valid, questions around this type of data collection and its potential impact on privacy. We advocate an opt-in approach, with complete transparency on how and when data will be captured, with easy review of what has been collected and how it will be used. Finally consumers should be given regular updates on what they’ve opted into and be able to opt out just as easily as they opted in.


Most of these ideas make assumptions about the hardware and what’s possible. For example, being able to track the Glass as being linked to a specific smartphone and account or having the camera running as standard operating procedure. But it paints the vision for what’s possible.

These ideas are just a few of the possibilities that could be brought to life with widespread use of the Google Glass. I expect some of them to work with shining examples; I expect others to be blocked by Google, legislation or technology limitations. Even so, the future’s bright. The future’s transparent (as long as this thing takes off).


If you would like to know more about the developments with Google Glass, or have any other questions, please contact David Trolle.