Last year, Eric Schmidt, Chairman of the Board at Google coined the phrase Social, Local, Mobile, or SoLoMo, when asked to describe the future of technology. Schmidt stated that Google firmly believes that all technology will eventually form to these three areas in one way or another.
Fast-forward a year, and Google’s vision seems unchanged with their latest announcement of Google Glass. Glass is a Google project that integrates all Google products into wearable eyeglasses, which project your apps (Google Maps, Google Hangouts, etc.) right in front of you, no matter where you are.
By nature, Google Glass is mobile–even more so than your smartphone–and will use what it knows about you from your Google+ and Gmail accounts (social) and your geographical location (local) to provide useful information to you on the go (mobile).
Currently, Google Glass is the only example of technology that has successfully integrated SoLoMo and gives marketers an insight into what this means for the future of advertising. If you have not seen the demo video, you should definitely watch it now.
With 95% of Google’s revenue coming from ads, marketers know that projects like Glass will have huge implications on the way brands interact with potential customers. As more and more SoLoMo technologies become available, it will fundamentally shift the way consumers see ads. “Stop thinking of [augmented reality] as a business. It’s a browser,” says John Havens, founder of the H(app)athon Project. “If this was 1992 and I told you there was something called a web browser that was going to change advertising, would you believe me? Yet that’s what happened.” Here’s my projection of how SoLoMo will change advertising.
People like to give Google a hard time for their attempts at being “social.” Google’s first social network, Orkut (ever heard of it?) didn’t do well outside of Brazil and India, and Google Buzz eventually shut down after a sloppy rollout and being engulfed in privacy lawsuits.
Nonetheless, what Google knows about your social life is huge. With Google+ recently surpassing Twitter to become the number two spot in terms of monthly active users, and access to all of your emails, Google will not only be targeting you with ads based on your demographics, but also on the content that you share most with your friends and family. Imagine you are walking down the street and you do a search using Google Glass for “nearby bars.” I believe that ad copy will change from “here’s a list of bars close to you that are highly rated” to “your closest friend James says ‘this bar is awesome!’”
Location-based services (LBS) are not a new concept. However, the mixture of local with social and mobile will definitely change the way advertisers make real-time offers. Imagine how much more likely it will be to get a customer if you have the option to only show ads to people within a certain radius of your business. An offer from a business that is geographically close combined with a recommendation from a friend could be the determining factor in whether or not that customer gives you their business.
Another possibility in the ‘location’ arena is group offers. Imagine you are looking for a restaurant and then you get an ad that says “your friends James and Julie are also close by. If all three of you come by, we will give you a 10% discount on appetizers!”
Just as the number of mobile phones and tablets has exploded over the last two years, I predict that Google Glass will have huge adoption rates in the early stages of its product cycle. Of course, mobile technology already exists, but it does have limitations that Google Glass will overcome.
The first problem is that you actually have to carry it around with you (yikes!), in your pocket, in your hand, etc., where as Google Glass will make it easy to forget you are carrying around such a powerful tool. A Google engineer working on Project Glass acknowledged this saying, “… that is exactly what we are trying to do. We want to find a way to make sure that technology is there for you as soon as you need and completely gone the second you don’t.”
Another limitation of advertising on current mobile devices is that it is still really in the hands of the consumer whether or not they see your ad, even if they are opted-in to get offers. If I walk into a business, it is up to me whether or not I pull out my phone, remember to check-in, and search for any offers that might be available. With Google Glass, that ad might just appear while decided were to eat or shop.
I believe Google is out to revolutionize advertising (again) the same way they did when they launched Google AdWords and AdSense. Google says technology will change to fit the SoLoMo model, but what it hasn’t mentioned is how “search” is still going to be king and that is no coincidence. Search is and will continue to be the entry point into everything else and Google knows it. Social, local, and mobile offers only reach their full potential when I am actively searching for something.
Whether you agree that technology will move to SoLoMo or not, as a marketer, when the biggest advertiser in the online world says they are making a shift, we have no choice but to listen and follow along.
For further reading on Google Glass, check out these articles: