Why marketers should act now on Firebase, closely weigh Allo, Home

While Google made a number of significant announcements at its developer conference last week, revamped application development platform Firebase is likely to have the most immediate impact on mobile marketers by boosting app engagements with greater relevancy and immediacy. 

Instant Apps, a modular approach to building apps, could drive downloads and further the merging of mobile app and Web experiences. Overall, Google is laying the groundwork for more predictive mobile engagements, something marketers should begin preparing for now. 

?Firebase [will have the more immediate impact on marketers],? said Julie Ask, vice president at Forrester Research. ?Bots ? Allo ? and Google Home won't offer direct marketing opportunities in the near term. 

?Firebase will give any app owner - including a marketer - the opportunity to observe what is happening in-app and respond or engage consumers proactively - discounts and offers, etc. through notifications,? she said. 

Seizing the moment
Google paved the way for a bigger role for chatbots, virtual assistants and virtual reality last week, but these developments could be further off in terms of their impact on marketers. With Firebase, marketers have an immediate opportunity to better understand what is happening in their apps and immediately act up this information with a relevant notification. 

Firebase now enables developers to use Google Cloud products with an app built on Firebase. Also new is an integrated analytics solution that lets developers know what users are doing in an app and how ads are performing across networks. Developers can also define groups of users with common attributes. 

Notifications will enable developers to target a segment of users and run marketing campaigns. 

Adwords and AdMob have been integrated into Firebase, enabling developers to track app installs and use AdMob ad formats such as native ads. 

Google, Apple and Facebook continue to own most of the mobile moments for users. Borrowing these moments is one of the most important opportunities for marketers on mobile right now, per Forrester Research. However, the major platforms have not offered the marketing technology to help marketers better engage consumers. 

The new Firebase is Google?s attempt to provide the kind of tools that developers and marketers need to better engage app users. 

"From Instant Apps to Firebase App Indexing to custom URL schemes that trigger app opens - all these developments are about moving consumers from the Web to app and back again so seamlessly that it will be hardly noticeable in the long run," said Scott Allan, chief marketing officer at PureOxygen Labs. "To prepare, marketers need to remove campaign walls and analytics silos and think about mobile web and mobile app as a single consumer journey. 

"Conversion optimization in this environment requires marketers to test campaigns in a much more blended way that traverses mobile app and Web" he said. "That equates to having link-level control over routing traffic. Marketers that do this kind of testing and deep linking today will have the data needed to seize the next generation of e-commerce opportunities and be better equipped to compete with Amazon.

In control
Forrester?s Ms. Ask recommends marketers watch and wait on bots and virtual assistants while stepping up their use of analytics and context, enabled via Firebase, to drive better mobile experiences. 

?While instant messaging apps/services and virtual agents could be used for marketing, marketers need to step back, wait and be very strategic here,? Ms. Ask said. ?Marketers will need to work with third party messaging platforms and virtual agents to best serve their customers, but they won't have a lot of control over these experiences in the near term. 

?Google - like Facebook - will focus on customer service and commerce - not traditionally areas for marketers other than if the marketer broadly owns the overall customer experience,? she said. 


Another piece of news out of Google I/O, Instant Apps, will make it easier to enable users to preview an app and for developers to build apps in modules or fragments that are more easily accessible by third-parties such as virtual assistants. 

?Google is essentially trying to make it easier for consumers to interact with apps or get a quick answer from an app,? said David Kurtz, chief product officer at Opera Mediaworks.

?The fact that Google is trying to make that experience more like the Web, without compromising the superiority of the native app experience over mobile Web, reinforces the fact that the app ecosystem is a far more important touch point between users and publishers than the mobile Web, a fact which is only going to expand further over time,? he said. 

Transcending devices
Despite the call for concern about chatbots, some are enthusiastic about the potential for Allo, Google?s instant messaging app introduced last week. While Google is late to the game in this space, the app will launch this summer with a number of big brands such as OpenTable and Uber being able to engage with users via a built-in chatbot assistant.  
 
The launch of Daydream, Google?s Android-based platform for virtual reality development, suggests marketers should be thinking about creating VR marketing. 

Google Home, the company?s answer to Amazon?s Echo, is also a longer-term opportunity for marketers. 

?In home automation, it?s crucial for marketers and developers to stop thinking about devices and start thinking in terms of experiences,? said Adam Fingerman, chief experience officer and co-founder of ArcTouch. ?The power of devices like Google Home will be in how they interact with other devices ? phones, connected TVs, smart appliances, etc. ? and these experiences will ultimately transcend devices.?
 
Predictive experiences
Overall, the takeaway for marketers is that smartphones are getting better at understanding user context. The next step will be delivering content or experiences before being asked.

Savvy marketers should be moving quickly to take advantage of how Firebase will help them better understand mobile users and create more engaging experiences while keeping an eye on creating more proactive solutions. 

?Enhancements to Google Now and Now on Tap, plus Google Assistant and more all add up to the simple fact that delivering when asked won?t be good enough anymore,? said Jeremy Lockhorn, vice president of emerging media at Razorfish

?Soon, Google Now won?t just tell you when it?s time to leave for the airport because it sees the flight on your calendar,? he said. ?It?ll have an Uber automatically arrive at your door at that time. 

?This predictive experience will fundamentally change what people expect from all interactions on their phones, suggesting that mobile marketers need to ensure they are prepared to leverage multiple data inputs to interpret context and predict what people want before they ask.?