Brands Test Google Goggles to Woo Mobile Consumers


Google is betting big that mobile and visual search will bring brands and consumers together as never before. That’s why it’s pitching Google Goggles as a compelling opportunity for brand marketers.

Five major brands — Buick, Disney, Diageo, T-Mobile and Delta Airlines — are kicking the tires on Google’s visual search app, which is iPhone and Android compatible. The incentive: to see how mobile visual search results direct consumers to their branded mobile sites, and to help extend their offline marketing to the mobile web.

As Google explains in a blog post, the brands “Goggles-enabled” non-digital marketing collateral such as print ads, movie posters and other media. When consumers take pictures of these with Google Goggles, they will be recognized by the app, and users will have the option of clicking-through directly to a mobile destination from the brand.[more]

It’s potentially a powerful counterpoint to Facebook Places’ local check-in pitch to brand marketers; and requires similar consumer behavior as mobile users scanning QR codes — except the trick is whether the public will adapt to viewing the world (and brand messaging) through Goggles.

“It’s a learning experiment for us more than an opportunity to make money. We’ve got the distribution and interesting visuals. Everything hinges on whether the users will adopt this or not,” commented Michael Slinger, Google’s head of mobile search ad sales in North America, to the New York Times.

Goggles has been downloaded some 250,000 times as a standalone app, and mobile search in general is up 500% since 2008. Google is already on record predicting cellphones as the No.1 screen for web viewing by 2015.

Buick, for its part, wants to reinvent its image and Goggles-enabled ads featuring the Buick Regal will be running in the print editions of Entertainment Weekly, People and Time magazines in November, and Esquire, Fast Company and Forbes in December. The reader simply scans the Goggles-enabled Buick ad with a smartphone, and up pops a branded mobile site replete with photos, video, and dealer options.

“This is really about positioning Buick in a progressive marketing space so that people think of Buick as a progressive company over all,” according to Craig Bierley, Buick’s director of advertising and sales promotions, to the Times.

Disney plans to “Goggles-enable” 30,000 posters for its December release of Tron: Legacy in 5,000 U.S. theaters. Scan a poster, and the dedicated mobile site delivers a trailer of the film and a redirect to buy tickets via Movietickets or Fandango.

Beverage giant Diageo has Goggles-enabled labels on select alcoholic drinks, directing mobile users to a branded site with wine reviews and cocktail recipes. T-Mobile, meanwhile, is touting its G2 phone with Goggleized magazine ads in Spin, Glamour and Rolling Stone. Latest brand tester Delta is just getting up to Goggles speed.

The Wall Street Journal sees this as Google’s latest strategic move to boost revenues beyond straightforward search. Whether brand marketers and consumers see this as mind-goggling (let alone a value-add to their needs) remains to be seen.

As for Google, it it’s come a long way since launching Goggles in December 2009 – what a difference a year makes:


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