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Google Glass shuts out advertisers ? at least for now

While Google is progressing with its plans to bring augmented reality eyeglasses, called Google Glass, to market, advertisers are being shut out from participating. At least initially.

Google this week released the Glass terms of service for application developers, who are prohibited from serving or including any ads, among other restrictions. The guidelines are something of a departure for Google in that they are, on the whole, more restrictive than for Android.

?I don't want to say it is a significant blow because it is too early,? said Arun Ramdeane, senior account executive at Atimi Software, Vancouver, Canada. ?They want developers focused on the innovation of the product and great user experiences.

?When Google first launched, it was just a search box, no ad banners,? he said. ?Then came AdWords, so maybe we will see something similar? It's too soon to make a call.

?This is untested territory - something like this has not been mass deployed. There is still a chance things could change as they get closer to launch.?

In your face marketing
Other restrictions for Google Glass include that developers may not use user data for advertising purposes, may not sell or transmit user data to third-party ad networks or services. Additionally, developers may not charge end users any fees or collect any payments in order to download an app or in connection with virtual goods or the functionality of the app.

Google is also requiring apps to only be distributed through its own distribution channel and not through any unofficial app stores.

It is possible that Google will allow ads on Glass at a later date but in the mean time, some developers are likely to be disappointed.

?Their strategy here is smart ? get the product/service right for the customer first, then slowly, over time, dip their toes into the ad business,? said Matt Karolian, social media strategist for Arnold Worldwide, Boston and a Google Glass beta participant. ?This product is literally in your face and UX fails will be really felt hard by the user ? this is why they are being so much more restrictive than say, Android.

?Facebook waited two years before adding any paid advertising to their platform and has aggressively evolved the product to ensure that it came secondary in terms of priority, the first being a good user experience,? he said.

?Over time, ads will invade wearable computing technology, but they will look and act much more like Nike+ than Web banners.?

Significant potential
The Google Glass device enables users to accomplish many of the same tasks that they can currently do via a smartphone but with the data hovering in front of them as they schedule meetings, take pictures or check the weather using their voice.

Google Glass is now in its beta phase with the company taking applications from consumers and companies earlier this year interested in testing the product and willing to pay $1,500 for a device to do so.

Part of the disappointment surrounding Google?s decision to not allow ads on Glass is because many see significant potential in using these types of devices to drive consumer engagement.

?It could play a big role,? Atimi?s Mr. Ramdeane said. ?As the devices innovate, so should the ads, in how they are presented to us and how we interact with them.

?The more personalized they get, the less intrusive they are perceived,? he said. ?The greater value an ad brings to a user the more it will be successful.

?It is a traditional way to monetize a product and has proven successful. We may just start to see new ways of presenting ads as we bring devices online, which have traditionally been offline.?

Disruptive technology
Forward-looking technophiles have long been excited about AR because of its ability to break down barriers between the physical and digital worlds. However, average consumers have, until recently, not been very aware of the technology.

This has started to change with AR becoming significantly more prevalent as a marketing tool in the year since Google began testing Glass. Brands such as Walmart, Macy?s, U.S. Bank and others have all introduced AR programs.

Marketers see significant opportunity to leverage augmented reality devices such as Google Glass to enhance the shopping experience by creating excitement and real-time engagement.

However, with merchants, brands and others still struggling to figure out how best to leverage smartphones in their marketing strategies, it may be best for Google to take a slow-build approach with Glass and not incorporate marketing opportunities until it is clearer how consumers will engage with the device and to ensure that there is not a backlash against a perceived invasion of privacy.

?I believe that right now, developers are initially going to stay away from Google Glass, see what apps Google first builds for the device, and observe how people consume them,? said Dipesh Mukerji, senior director of product strategy and marketing at Kony, Orlando, FL.

?Because security is a large concern for users, Google Glass could be a disruptive piece of technology,? he said. ?Google needs to take baby steps.

?The bottom line is, Google doesn?t want an Apple Maps to happen with Glass. They need to be sure that they are doing this right since they are the first ones.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York