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Everything marketers need to know about Google Glass

There is no doubt that Google is changing the mobile landscape with its latest wearable innovation, Google Glass. However, will the technology be the next big thing or just a passing fad?

According to the company, Google Glass acts as a camera, video recorder, video conferencing tool, direction finder and foreign language translator. The product was limited to consumers and marketers, and a select number have been given the option to pre-order it for $1,500.

?Google Glass is the first piece of wearable computing tech that has a real shot at making it,? said Matt Karolian, social media strategist at Arnold Worldwide, Boston.

?There are realistically only two companies in the world that could make this happen, Google and Apple ? and Google has stepped up,? he said.

One to watch
According to Mr. Karolian, Google Glass is a technology that marketers should watch for this year.       

?It is going to be very interesting to watch how the public reacts to more and more people showing up in social situations wearing Glass,? Mr. Karolian said. ?I predict much of the fear of the device being creepy and voyeuristic is going to dissipate.

?There is going to be increased pressure for marketers to be respectful,? he said. ?If you run a bad banner ad, you will see lackluster results, while a bad Glass experience is literally in someone's face.

?Aside from the adoption of wearables, we will likely see a more rapid advance towards a cashless/credit card-less society alongside the rise of verified online identities - given that these two need to go hand-in-hand. Any technology that makes it easier for people to spend money should be readily adopted by brands.?

There are quite a few things that make Google Glass unique.

The technology is a new form of mobile computing that has not been explored at scale to date.

Additionally, Google Glass is also wearable and hands-free which contrasts with traditional computing devices which require some physical input.

One of the key benefits of this form factor is that interactions with content can be passive.

Therefore, important text messages, weather alerts or travel directions can be transmitted in front of a user?s eyes with no effort, while other interactions can be activated through their voice, per Cezary Pietrzak, director of marketing at Appboy, New York.

?When you ask people what they consider a mobile device, glasses are probably not the first thing that comes to mind,? Mr. Pietrzak said. ?Yet, Google Glass is inherently mobile as it accompanies you wherever you go, and has access to your personal data through its connection to your mobile phone.

?From a developer perspective, Google Glass is open-source which encourages developers to experiment and tinker with its functionality to determine the best use cases,? he said. ?It also lays the groundwork for a strong ecosystem which will increase its chances of success in the market.

?If we look back at the early days of iOS and Android, we see that this played an important role for in the adoption of those platforms.?

Limited
Because of its current exclusivity to only a small number of people, Google Glass has become a bit of a novelty and has generated buzz.

Many marketers and consumers want to get their hands on the sought-after device.

?Google Glass may not necessarily be a breakout success this year due to several limiting factors, including pricing, fashion implications and the learning curve around its usage,? Mr. Pietrzak said.

?However, it has created more buzz in the last few months than most tech products this year because it is truly breaking new ground and helping people re-imagine the role of technology in their lives,? he said.

?More than anything, it reinforces the hugely important role of mobile in our lives.?

Things to know
Advertising is not allowed on Google Glass ? at least in the initial stages of its launch ? so there are no easy, off-the-shelf ways to get in front of customers.

However, this can we viewed as a good thing, because it forces marketers to be more creative with how they connect with users on the platform.

Moreover, it puts a premium on experiences that bring utility, rather than interrupt an existing behavior.

Industry experts also believe that marketers need to realize that Google Glass is, in some ways, more personal than a mobile device.

Therefore, the types of interactions that are created for this platform need to be unique to its parameters, and respect the fact that the device sits right on a user?s face.

Privacy will also be a major concern, as is already true in mobile.

Google is explicitly not letting developers collect, use or sell customer data from the device. Even if these restrictions weaken over time, they will have to make certain assumptions about the end user, which make things like targeting and attribution more difficult.

?Google Glass underscores a bigger trend in technology toward wearable technology like smart watches, fitness trackers and sleep monitors,? Mr. Pietrzak said. ?These devices collect incredibly value data about people and their behaviors, and many of them use the mobile phone as a central hub.

?As they proliferate, it's important for developers and marketers to understand how various mobile technologies come together and how they can be used to build their relationships with their customers,? he said.

?Google Glass also supports the trend toward passive consumption of content and technologies that anticipate people's needs. A great example here is Google Now, which proactively pushes notifications to people based on their personal data, search history and various Google services. Even a simple action like a click or swipe is becoming a barrier to entry for engagement.?

Innovative technology
Rick Chavie, vice president of omni-commerce at hybris, believes that while the controversy over Google Glass has made the headlines and while the consumer has been the focus of much the content written, the opportunity to change mobile B2B will be breathtaking. 

?Really, for the next decade the category of wearable technology will find a wealth of use cases,? Mr. Chavie said. ?The apps will essentially be crowdsourced and the ability to plug these apps into commerce platforms will be key.  

?The convergence of digital and physical commerce into a differentiated omni-commerce experience will be greatly enabled by this category of technology,? he said. ?People will no longer think of channels, even omni-channel, as mobile opens up gateway for real-time, enhanced experiences.

?A major commerce replacement cycle for converged digital and physical commerce is underway.  At the same time, huge investment and priority is being placed on mobile. These two major trends will drive a re-imagining of customer experience by marketers and advertisers as they accelerate the shift from TV and static content to real-time marketing at the point of need.?

Wearable technology
Many industry experts believe that wearable computing is becoming huge and will get even bigger by the end of the year. 

According to many, Google Glass is by far the biggest and most exciting product in wearable computing because it instantly gives users amazing access to information.

?It stands out purely from a tech perspective in that it?s totally different from anything else out there,? said Mike Santoro, president of Walker Sands. ?It also helps that it?s coming out of Google. 

?Pitch this as another startup and it wouldn?t be getting nearly the amount of buzz that it is,? he said. ?Still, the technology is revolutionary.

?It also has an element of controversy to it. No one cares that you are wearing a watch that monitors your heart rate, but put a camera on your face that could be secretly recording you, and it jumps to top of interest lists.?

According to Mr. Santoro, Google Glass is going to push a lot of the trends that marketers are already addressing because of the growth of smartphones. 

?I believe that eventually something like this will become mainstream even if it?s not in the form of Google Glass,? Mr. Santoro said. ?Having all that information readily available is a big consumer demand. 

?You see that in the massive amount of people staring at their phones while walking around,? he said. ?This year, we will see a lot of developers create a lot of apps that will get consumers over the hump of the weird factor. 

?Early adopters are going to get a lot of stares from people so it?s going to become a thing where users will have to determine if the access to information is worth dealing with the fact it?s not readily accepted in the world.?

The potential for business use is immense for Google Glass. 

?An entirely new class of business apps that are centered around communication and collaboration could leverage the Glass API to realize all kinds of productivity enhancing use-cases and applications,? said Sriram Ramanathan, chief technology officer at Kony Solutions.

?As a marketer, the ability to target ads improves significantly with Google Glass,? he said. ?Another thing to note is that the SDK is pre-integrated into the Google ad network from the ground up. The other very important aspect is privacy; this is still a big concern that has not been adequately addressed yet with Google Glass.

?I think the wearable tech space is primed to take off this year. Products like smart watches, the Nike FuelBand and Fitbit, and other healthcare devices will all soon have SDKs for which apps can be built.?

Final Take
Rimma Kats is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York