Theories On Google Glass Data Collection And The Future Impact On Online Advertising

by Rick Elenbaas
29 May 2013

Bear wearing Google Glass
Disclaimer: The following ideas fall firmly into the camp of near-term futurism.

As almost everyone in the digital marketing community will be aware; Google has recently launched their Google Glass. Possibly the most high profile project in the history of wearable computing, it is yet to be seen if Glass is going to be a game changing piece of technology or if it will wither on the vine like other high profile Google projects (think buzz, wave etc.).

As a search marketer I’m fascinated to see how the introduction of glass will augment Google's formidable range of advertising options. While Google has confirmed that Glass won’t serve ads (yet?), I’m theorising that Glass could add another layer of hyper personalised data collection to improve the targeting of existing advertising inventory. I can imagine a range of scenarios occurring where Glass is being used to bridge the gap between online media consumption and offline behaviour which include:

  • Widespread glass adoption helping to track cross device browsing based on users being forced to sign in. This could also potentially mitigate the impact of suggested forthcoming demise of being able to use third party cookies as a tracking method.
  • Glass being used to refine data to improve the targeting of display advertising e.g. improved accuracy around geo-locational data or inferring engagement with offline display media through the use of either NFC tagging or QR code scans (note Salmat has developed a platform allowing offline outdoor advertisers to deliver value add content to consumers via NFC, QR codes and SMS short codes.
  • I don’t think it would be a significant leap for Google’s engineers to develop some kind of simulated “real world cookie” that synched with the users Glass profile and tracked things like: QR code scans (media type, location, topic, categorisation, time of day etc.); general analysis of the user engagement with outdoor media e.g. the dwell time of the users gaze
  • Glass data being used to determined the colours that a user responds to / has a greater affinity with
  • Using these data points it would be possible to infer the creative / topics / brands that resonated with the wearer and to then use this data (likely aggregated) to improve online display and search targeting. As a marketer I personally would welcome the ability to target relevant online advertising to users who had expressed interest in a client’s category offline.
  • Glass being used to map offline relationships and influence through the use of facial recognition databases e.g.: like Polar Rose (acquired by Apple in 2010).

While a number of these scenarios are highly invasive from a privacy perspective I’m convinced that Google will be looking to Glass as another source of highly personal real world data to complement their already vast trove of online data.

The big questions are:

  • If Glass can cut through the potential “geek factor” and become adopted by the masses
  • How much of our personal data we as users will be prepared to trade

My opinion is that while the wearable technology category is predicted to boom it’s too early to make a call if Glass will be a hit. Irrespective of this, I remain convinced that Google will have worked out a slick angle to integrate Glass data into their other advertising services. This is an area that I will (ironically) be keeping an eye on as wearable category will likely further radically evolve search marketing as we know it.

Find out more about Salmat's search offering here or call us on 1300 725 628.

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About the author
Rick Elenbaas
SEO Operations Manager

Rick Elenbaas is the SEO Operations Manager for Salmat with more than four years of digital agency experience, working for strong brands in competitive markets across Australia. Specialising in technical SEO operations, Rick is passionate about continuously improving and automating processes to accelerate the optimisation and organic growth of his client's websites. He has also strong web analytic abilities and advanced knowledge of web based technologies, including Wordpress.

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