May 2 2014
Ryan Manchee

Is Seeing Believing with Google Glass?


In a world in which we feel more hyper-connected, we have, in many cases, become more disconnected from the world around us. Wearable devices give people access to insights in a more seamless way, acting as extensions of themselves. Rather than having to look down at a screen to read or type in a query to search for something – the information people want is available to them and readily accessible via simple voice command. The smartest of the wearables, like Google Glass, provide a deep level of personalization to ensure the value (and relevance) of information.

Last week, Google gave anyone in the U.S. a one-day opportunity to purchase their very own Google Glass. I signed up.

Today there are over 200 wearable devices available -Google Glass, Pebble Smartwatch, Nike Fuel Band, etc. By 2017, wearable device sales are expected to hit 64 million units worldwide, according to eMarketer. These are smart, connected devices that will enable the increased consumption of media and accelerate the ability to share information. Cisco expects that over the next four years, wearable device connections will increase more than 704.5%.

As new screen-based wearable technologies become available, what will this mean for the media habits of consumers who already consume 90% of their media through screens?

We are entering the next stage of innovation and technical evolution where more of the world can be all around us. My experience with Glass shows it can augment our realities and enhance our media consumption experience.

Once the price comes down to consumer-friendly levels, Glass has two main challenges to overcome to get widespread adoption and long-term usage:

  • Social perception – Glass is geeky cool, but it stands out and you would look different. People in public will stare, your wife may mock you, and your kid may say “you look like science.” Increased proliferation will open the door for acceptance.
  • User experience - The interface, the navigation, the pairing with your phone all require some getting used to, and could be improved. Continual software and hardware updates will open the door for the “I can’t imagine my life before this” experience.

In my experience, finding value in my Glass comes down to context -- the context of the world around me, the setting that I am in, and even what I was doing and what I will (or could) be doing. Consumer engagement at any level requires some type of value exchange. For advertisers to find success with Glass, brands need to take advantage of utilizing the user's location to drive engagement and real-world action.

While Google has stated that it will not allow advertising in Glass or its apps (aka; Glassware), some brands have already created their own apps that rely more on an experience than a traditional ad unit to bypass advertising restrictions. See Kenneth Cole’s Mankind campaign. In an industry that loves buzzwords, we may embrace the Native Wearable Appvertising as the newest, shiniest object.

Is it time to start shifting towards a Glass First strategy, thinking about the 6th screen, or talking about the death of non-wearable mobile ads? No, but if location and proximity mean anything to advertisers or brands, this is not a technology to brush off. Understanding the device’s utility for consumers and identifying the opportunities to create more relevance to a consumer’s surroundings can unlock the key to success. I plan to explore more possibilities of what Glass could mean for the consumer experience and identify opportunities for brands to engage with prospective customers through wearable devices such as Glass - what is novelty versus what is utility. I’m looking forward to talking about what the future could look like and how great it will look on you.