Every year since 2008, Google has held its annual developer conference, otherwise known as the Google I/O. It is a chance for the tech giant to flex its muscles and showcase its latest innovations in a series of in-depth sessions. Last year’s conference, for example, saw the official launch of Google’s domestic smart speaker, Google Home.
This year, Google revealed several significant new developments, including VPS (Visual Positioning System), Google Lens and updates to Google Assistant, Google Photo Tools and Google’s Daydream Virtual Reality headset. Each of these products has the potential to revolutionise the digital marketing industry through advanced machine learning and AI capabilities.
These products show just how quickly the industry is evolving. In such a competitive environment, it is essential that digital marketing agencies stay ahead of the latest technological trends. So, what is the advertising potential of Google’s latest products for brands?
VPS (Visual Positioning System)
VPS is essentially the evolution of GPS (global positioning system). Whilst GPS has facilitated long distance navigation, its accuracy remains limited over short distances. However, by using 3D visualisation technology known as Tango, VPS can calculate the location of a user or any other item to within centimetres. Google’s head of virtual reality, Clay Bavor, has already discussed how this technology could be used to find the exact location of a product in a large shop, for example. For brands, this technology could bring a new dimension to researching products both online and offline, as smartphones could direct customers to a particular product in store or alert them if they are passing a product previously left in an online ‘shopping basket’.
Taking centre stage at the Google I/O was Google Lens, which can best be described as Google Goggles on steroids. Where previously the Goggles could analyse a photo and tell the user what was in it, Google Lens is able to combine the digital and physical worlds by using sophisticated image recognition tools. This technology will bridge the gap between a smartphone’s camera lens and Google Search by identifying objects in real-time and providing digital information to the user. One example of its use, as presented by Google CEO Sundar Pichai, is the ability to point the smartphone at a store and receive instant reviews. This puts a new spin on what we understand as a ‘shop front’ and offers a host of advertising opportunities for brands to display promotions and market their products in an interactive and engaging format.
Google Assistant, Google Photo Tools and Daydream Virtual Reality (VR)
Other notable product announcements included updates to Google Home’s intelligent personal assistant. Instead of acting as a simple question and answer service, the new Google Assistant will now offer information proactively. For example, in the future, users will be able to point a smartphone at a restaurant to find out its name (Google Lens), display its online reviews (Google Search), book a table, and invite some friends (Google Assistant) – all in one smooth process.
Meanwhile, upgrades to Google Photos will allow machine learning and AI to remove obstructions from a photo, while facial recognition tools recognise friends and suggest contacts to share the photo with. For marketers, this same software could potentially be used to identify brand logos within an image and then target the user with highly personalised and dynamically updated product ads.
Finally, Google announced updates to its Daydream virtual reality (VR) platform, including news that the headset will now be compatible with the new Samsung Galaxy. This development should accelerate the accessibility of VR and thus enable more consumers to experience this technology. One example of its possible uses could be virtually visiting a holiday resort before making a purchase, which would mark one of the first digital try-before-you-buy business and consumer interactions.
The launch of these new products once again highlights Google’s desire to shift from being an "advertising" business to being a "cloud" based business where AI powers the future. By integrating advances in machine learning and AI into its impressive portfolio of products, Google is bringing the real world and the digital world ever closer. As such, brands that can use these products to create a customer experience that encompasses both of these channels will gain the most from their marketing campaigns.
By Matt Phelan, CEO at 4Ps part of NetBooster group
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