Category Archives: Google

Google Serves Up Shopper Trends to Retailers to Win in Mobile Moments

Written by: Eric Fransen
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Google has recently begun to use the term Mobile Moments to describe mobile’s place in the consumer journey across devices. Specifically, they’re trying to understand how search signals intent at a regional level and how retailers can capitalize on this intelligence. I’m certainly in Google’s camp when it comes to search as a signal — when you’re asking a question about a product, you’re almost certainly heading toward a purchase, depending on what information you discover — and Google’s plan to address (and monetize) these signals just got better.

Two weeks ago, Google announced a new ad product that allows retailers to tap into their massive databank of search and mapping data, offering them the opportunity to fully utilize local shopping trends and behaviors. For example, Google found that demand for PlayStation 4 was 2x that of Xbox One in New York while consumers in Los Angeles were 9x more interested in Xbox One. This kind of insight could change the entire strategy of merchandising and co-op advertising to fit local preferences and nuances in behavior. Why spend equally everywhere when the same dollar promoting Xbox One would go a lot further in Los Angeles compared to New York?

"I shop here because of their people-first approach to marketing across devices."

“I shop here because of their people-first approach to marketing across devices.”

So, where does mobile fit into this behavior? Everywhere. In fact, according to a recent study, 54% of shoppers are expected to shop in these Mobile Moments between other activities throughout the holiday season, rather than simply cramming it all into Black Friday or a “shopping day.” This also includes the ever-present behavior of “showrooming,” where consumers are checking prices and comparison shopping online even while they are in other stores.

Here’s the bottom line: Mobile is going to be bigger than ever this holiday season, and Google’s got a new bag of tricks to make sure you’re reaching the right customers with the right message on the right device.

The Next Frontier for Food Influencers: YouTube

Written by: Allie Wester
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It is undeniable that YouTube is a big platform for influencers. But when it comes to the food space, compared to the massive power and reach of food blogs, it is still finding its footing.

Why? I think it is because Gen Z – the core YouTube consumer – hasn’t quite entered the stage of life where they want to learn to cook. The oldest Gen Z members are in college, which means a lot of eating out and easy convenience foods. 

However, once Gen Z graduates, they will want to learn how to cook. Will they look to blogs or Pinterest (which ultimately leads to blogs)? As a majority, probably not. They’ll look to where they always look for “how to” information: YouTube.

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Source: Google

There are a TON of high-quality food blogs out there right now. There are a handful of food YouTube channels, but comparatively it’s slim pickings.

For food marketers: Start experimenting now! You may not get huge view counts right away, but think of the long-term effect. Your video could get hundreds of thousands of views down the line. And you can perfect your craft now before it is mainstream.

“Food hack” videos, demonstrating tricks and tips for making cooking exciting and fun, draw interest from one in four millennials. Use this as an opportunity to not only promote your product, but also explain how to cook with it and why it’s a useful tool or ingredient.

For food bloggers/influencers: Start experimenting now! Many food bloggers I’ve talked to are hesitant to start on YouTube because video is complicated. I get that. But I also know that the food blogging industry figured out food photography and styling from scratch. I have faith that they can also figure out food video. 

In the meantime, the millennial generation is watching food YouTube videos. According to a survey by Google, Millward Brown Digital, and Firefly:

  • Sixty-eight percent of millennial moms purchase food products featured in the videos they watch. Sixty-nine percent of these highly-engaged moms watch food videos every week, and 68 percent of them will also watch videos while cooking.
  • While three out of four millennial women are open to watching branded food content, close to half (43 percent) have not done so, representing a significant opportunity for brands to gain new audiences.
  • Sixty-eight percent of millennial men described themselves as a “confident cook” – two times more than their millennial female counterparts.
  • Millennial dads are the most engaged with food content on YouTube, watching videos to spark inspiration and create meals. And 42 percent of them will make special trips to the store to buy products they learn about in food videos.
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Source: Google

For the foreseeable future, food blogs are not going anywhere. They’ll always have the millennial, Gen X, and boomer generations. But if they want to remain relevant with the younger generation — and let’s be honest, make more money — they should start experimenting on YouTube now!

How Virtual Reality Could Shake Up Retail Experiences

Written by: Eric Fransen
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I have a confession to make. I wasn’t always a believer in virtual reality. I thought it was the latest tech fad, with everyone trying so hard to make it happen.

Gamers are in the middle of the Virtual Reality Rebirth with Playstation VR (formerly Project Morpheus), Oculus Rift, Google Cardboard, and others. You can’t talk about the future of the gaming industry without discussing virtual reality. Want to ride a virtual rollercoaster? What about a survival horror experience? You got it.

Yet, none of it was speaking to me in a way that caused me to say “THIS is the future…” until I tried the HTC Vive with Steam VR. It was eye-opening to say the least. For the first time in my life, I actually felt like I was completely immersed and present in a virtual world.

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HTC Vive taught me everything I know about digital kitchens.

To try and describe my experience with the Vive would not do it justice. It truly must be experienced to comprehend how realistic it is. In the demo that I tried, I watched as a full-scale whale swam by me on a sunken ship, I painted in 3D space and could walk through my creation, I cooked a meal in a kitchen, and I tried to repair Atlas — a robot from the beloved Portal series. It was incredible. TL;DR I’m a believer.

So how does this come to life in retail?
The possibilities are endless. With flexible VR tech like Google Cardboard and other smartphone-enabled opportunities, retailers can create simple, lightweight experiences designed to be used remotely or to enhance the in-store experience. With more sophisticated tech like the HTC Vive that requires a substantial footprint, there’s an opportunity to create in-store engagements that transport consumers into virtual worlds where they can experience products firsthand.

Here are a few ideas of how this could come to life:

Design: Stores like Bed Bath & Beyond or Home Depot could create an interior design experience where consumers virtually build their dream house using products available in the store. Once the design is complete, they’re provided with a shopping list of the appropriate materials.

Outdoor: Outdoor stores like REI could create experiences that allow consumers to try out the gear in the context of amazing locales like Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, and even Mount Everest.

Fashion: Stores like Forever 21 and H&M could allow customers to model various clothing items on avatars modeled after their body types. This could extend to unique designs and colorations to be custom-made for the customer.

But why does this matter?
As I’ve touched on in a previous post: personalization (or perceived personalization). Virtual reality offers the ability to completely personalize the experience for each customer. It affords flexibility and immersion in the shopping experience like never before. In many cases, it’s going to be the closest consumers can get to trying out products without actually trying out the product. The possibilities are endless.

Beacons in Retail: Will Eddystone be a Game Changer?

Written by: Eric Fransen
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In July, Google announced their answer to Apple’s iBeacons — Eddystone. It is an open source beacon that is not only accessible by both Android and iOS platforms, but can also operate without the need for an app by the sending of a URL. This kind of flexibility could open up a world of possibilities for interested retailers. Here are just a few ideas:

Real-Time Inventory
Departments, aisles, and product sections feature beacons that help users locate the product they’re looking for and alert them if it is in stock. If it is out of stock, users could be pushed to complete a transaction through the mobile app or e-commerce site to order for home delivery. App users could instantly connect to an expert through chat or messaging to ask product questions or get help with an order.

Real-Time Content Delivery
Product sections feature beacons that trigger access to exclusive product reviews, content from content creators, and lifehacks featuring the products. For example, a shopper in the Home and Bath section of a store may receive a video of interior design inspirations with complementary products that are curated by a popular YouTuber, or featured Pinterest boards from a Pinfluencer.

Real-Time Social Reviews and Tips
Shoppers can leave reviews, tips, and complementary product suggestions through an app experience that are tied to physical locations in stores. For example, a shopper may have had a better experience with a particular brand of cleaning materials — they could leave that preference in the form of a social sticky note for the next shopper to discover.

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Glass, 2 Years Passed

Written by: Clare Dussman
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Two years ago, I flew to Mountain View to cash in my golden tweet for what was being called a game-changer in the tech revolution and an assault device against personal privacy: Google Glass. Being a bleeding edge tech enthusiast, I was all in.

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Twenty-four months later, the Explorer program is over and though not exactly by choice, so is my Glass usage. Glass was well-made and intuitive. If I could wear it every day I would love it; however, others would not, which is why I do not.

Google made an elegant product and a horrific vertical.

Horrific may seem like a strong word, but it is purposeful. The people who came up to me asking why I was wearing it and if I was recording them were truly scared, uneasy, and defensive. Despite the extensive coverage of Glass in the media, there was distrust about heads-up displays so much so that wearing Glass was similar to having a controversial T-shirt on: you needed to be constantly at the ready to explain, defend, and oftentimes debate.

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It did not need to be that way. As a Glass Explorer, I think things could have been different. If I were the one to try and make it different, here is what I would have done:

  1. Brought down the cost. Part of what made Glass feel unobtainable was that it was financially unobtainable. The hardware did not warrant the steep price tag – even if the R&D cost did. The price tag immediately set Glass Explorers apart from the general public in a negative and pretentious way. At the consumer level, you cannot charge more than a thousand dollars for something that is in its humble beginnings and a luxury tech accessory.
  2. Advertised the ordinary. My favorite usage for Glass was more easily capturing presentation images, recordings, and whiteboard drawings during meetings without interrupting my concentration or the rest of the people in the room. When people categorize Glass with world travelers and NASA more than they see it as a useful tool for working moms to take better notes at a parent-teacher meeting, the device seems less relatable.
  3. Shed literal light on privacy concerns. You can clearly tell when someone with Glass is taking video because the screen lights up, but because the general public was not educated on Glass’ features in a clear and concentrated way, fear spread like wildfire. If there had been a small light on the headset that lit when people were recording, everyone could have relaxed a little. Although it is not ideal, features like this could have put the non-Glass wearing public at ease.

Launching a new category is no easy task. But, the lesson to be learned from Glass is not a new one: perception is reality and worry can overrule product.

Looking forward, I think Google’s pivot toward the business sector is smart, but they need to move quickly. There are acquisitions going on that point toward a competitor not far behind.

This article is a compilation of both my own ideas and conversations I have had with countless others while wearing Glass. Thank you to everyone who had educated and constructive conversations with me, greatly helping me understand the technology, the vertical, and the pros and cons of wearing bleeding edge technology on yo face.

Google’s “Micro-Moments” Highlight Fundamental Shift in Consumer Behavior

Written by: Hannah Redmond
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You know that feeling when you forget your phone? It’s a feeling of vulnerability and helplessness, as we have become increasingly dependent on that powerful little device. We expect to be connected to who and what we want to, and we expect to find answers and solutions to our problems on demand.

This has changed the way consumers make purchase decisions. The traditional consumer journey is now divided up into various real-time, intent-driven “micro-moments,” providing marketers the opportunity to identify and prepare for the exact moments right when a consumer reaches for their device.

Google Micro-Moments

Google has identified various insights driving overall micro-moments to showcase the variety of opportunities for marketers, many of which are applicable to the CPG category.

  • People evaluate purchase decisions in-the-moment. When walking through a store, 82% of smartphone users turn to their phone to influence a purchase decision. More people are reaching for their phone to investigate products and prices than are actually asking for help from an associate in store.
  • People solve unexpected problems in-the-moment. 62% of smartphone users are more likely to take action right away toward solving an unexpected problem or new task because they have a smartphone.  If their dishwasher breaks, they will immediately go to their device to investigate the problem and the products and services that may provide a solution.
  • Micro-moments fill voids or lulls in time or complement multitasking. For example, people turn to their phones when waiting in line, commuting, walking, shopping, relaxing, and more.

As marketers, it is our job to identify how to add value to each of these micro-moments. We should consider what micro-moments are most important to our brand, and which provide an opportunity to highlight our product while making our consumers’ lives easier. How we create content and add value to consumers in each of these micro-moments can set us apart from our competitors.

To learn more about Google’s Micro-Moments, visit their research on Think With Google.

Cardboard Redux

Written by: Ian Sherwood
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Google gets it. They understand that widespread VR is coming soon and that means headsets – those clunky, awkward, hairstyle-destroying devices that allow us to imagine we are standing on the USS Enterprise or on the Great Wall of China, all while sitting at a Starbucks.

With Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus Rift and Microsoft’s HoloLens, headsets are definitely real products. But Google gets that we aren’t all going to shell out $200 or more and strap on bulky headsets just for a taste of VR. They lowered the bar last year by eschewing bulky plastics and high-tech eyewear and introducing Google Cardboard: a simple, folded piece of cardboard plus some plastic lenses and adhesive. This one leap has changed perceptions of what is required to get people trying VR. This year, they’ve lowered the bar all the way to the floor with an even simpler cardboard box that unfolds in three steps (compared to 12 steps for the original). We can even get Cardboard headsets printed with artwork or logos and have them mounted to our favorite baseball cap.

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Source: Dodocase.com

Google gets that a headset is just the gateway to the compelling content that we need, so they also announced Jump: a platform to tether 16 digital cameras in a fixed circular array to take 360-degree image and video captures, plus an image assembler to stitch all 16 images together with edge translation, color correction, and blur removal. Suddenly, we no longer need $100K specialized cameras, we only need 16 GoPro Hero cameras mounted just so, and we need Google’s Jump Assembler to put it all together. But, what we’ll get are YouTube-ready, 3D videos that are tailor-made for viewing with – you guessed it – a Cardboard headset. Expect Jump content to appear on YouTube in July, but the camera arrays won’t be publicly available for several months.

Google further announced that the Cardboard app is now available on iOS (get it here), so the other half can see what all the fun is about, too.

And if that weren’t enough, Google announced Cardboard Expeditions: an in-classroom VR experience to give students a view of a location or experience in a controlled setting where the instructor guides the experience. An Expedition pack will include multiple Cardboard headsets and accompanying phones, and a tablet synchronized to the phones that will allow teachers to control the virtual outings.

Look for the updated YouTube app to support VR content soon, and cardboard headsets to be all over your local Starbucks.

How We Used Google Maps APIs to Help Hunt Monsters

Written by: Tom Edwards
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Editor’s note: Tom Edwards, EVP Strategy and Innovation for TMA Digital Engagement, was a guest blogger on the Google Geo Developers blog today, speaking to TMADE’s use of Google Maps APIs in building a website for GameStop to promote the launch of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Congrats to our GameStop team for a successful program and a post on the Google Geo Developers blog!

If you’re going on a monster hunt, it’s a good idea to bring a map. And if you want to build buzz around the release of a new game, you should have the right tool as well—in our case it was Google Maps APIs. We built a website for GameStop to promote the launch of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, an action role-playing game from Warner Brothers and CD Projekt RED. After a visitor logs in to the promotional website, she is dropped into a map of the world and collects clues about where to find monsters. The goal is to be the first person to find each monster and win a prize.

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The game’s launch deadline required us to build the site within a tight timeframe. We chose Google Maps APIs because they provided the tools we needed to build our maps quickly and easily. They also let us focus on the site creative rather than get bogged down with technical issues. We use the Google Maps JavaScript API for the front end, to start the experience and immerse visitors into the virtual world. Then, with the Google Maps Street View Service, we allow users to search for monsters. We took images of the monsters and used overlays to drop them into familiar surroundings.

We use the Street View API to plant the user in a random location somewhere in the world, then visualize their surroundings, including monsters and trails of blood. We set a randomly generated starting point to the map based on five predefined locations. From there we have event listeners in place for ‘mapView: bounds_changed, streetView: visible_changed, streetView: position_changed, streetView: pov_changed, searchBox: places_changed’.

When the user has initialized Street View, we make a call to our API to see if any monsters are within a defined distance from the LatLng of our monster data set. We continue this test any time the position_changed event is fired until a monster is within range. At that point, we update the class of a div that sits above the map view. Each monster is assigned a specific CSS class, which allows us to easily make tweaks.

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Google Maps made it easy to combine the real world of Street View with imaginary creatures from the game. Our goal went beyond just our users having fun — we wanted to build a site that would create genuine excitement around the game and give people a taste of monster hunting in the real world.

Is Today Mobileggedon? 5 Things to Know About Today’s Google Update

Written by: Tom Edwards
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Today is the day Google is rolling out a major update to its mobile search algorithm. Some are proclaiming this “Mobileggedon,” others the “Mobilepocolypse.”

The reality is that this is a major update that will boost the ranking of mobile-friendly pages. There are five things to know about how this update may impact your brand.

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1) The update only impacts mobile search results. This is a mobile first update and will only impact results from mobile queries.

2) The update does impact all languages. This is a global roll-out. Those that manage pages across locations should take note.

3) The update applies to individual pages vs entire websites. This may not be apparent initially, but makes sense as a whole. Google indexes pages and queries map to intent which extends from the relevance of the content on the page.

4) This is one dimension for how Google will rank a mobile search query. –This update does raise the importance of a mobile-friendly experience, but this is not the only signal being considered.

5) Strong content can overcome… For now. User intent based on the query is still an important factor. If the content on a non-mobile friendly page is considered the most relevant for the query it will still rank high for now.

It is important to take the necessary steps to create an optimal experience not only from a search perspective but also from a user experience standpoint.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

From Screen to Screen: Redefining Celebrity

Written by: Jordan Lee
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On an average day, there are roughly four billion YouTube video views. Additionally, YouTube is a social platform of choice for teens, with an 82 percent usage rate in the 14-17 age bracket. With this consumption, there are new stars rising.

YouTube stars have really taken off over the past few years, amassing millions of devout subscribers. Young people line up and wait for hours at conferences to meet their favorite YouTube stars. A plethora of management agencies that specialize in YouTube influencers are creating celebrity on their own terms with book deals, TV appearances, and more.

The newest development in this evolution is Grace Helbig and her new show on the E! Network. We’ve seen YouTube superstars appear on shows before, but this is the first time one has had their own namesake for a show. Just two episodes into watching and my husband walked in asking if I was watching YouTube videos on our Apple TV. I essentially was.

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Image via eoline.com

While these stars are exploring new formats, don’t expect them to change their voice. In an interview with USA Today Helbig explains how she is going to keep with the format of her web videos and wants everything to be transparent in the hopes that her young audience will follow her to TV.

Anyone with prior experience partnering and/or working with social influencers won’t find this transparency and dedication to voice to be a surprise. Their voice got them where they are, and fans expect consistency. Many of them are leading successful careers on their primary platform and those who wish to partner with social influencers and YouTube superstars should be prepared to let them take the reigns and share their expertise.

It’s important to consider what this means for television. Cable is already in a shaky place because of streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. While the rise of online videos could be a threat, traditional channels have the opportunity to leverage them in a meaningful way in order to survive. E! has definitely taken a huge risk and everyone will be watching to see if it succeeds. The entertainment industry will need to rethink what celebrity partnerships look like, because these social influencers are steadily becoming the new personality powerhouses. Authenticity and transparency will become a mainstay as this shift happens.