Miss out on Google I/O 2016, (a.k.a. the hottest developer conference last week)? While there were plenty of great new products released, we feel that there a few that are most relevant for marketers this year as we try to keep up with the latest trends in technology.
Not to be outdone by the Oculus Rift (Facebook) or Vive (HTC), Google is stepping up to the plate for VR technology in 2016, designing an entirely new platform called “Daydream”. What once started as Google Cardboard has now turned into a full-fledged headset and software ecosystem to power virtual reality experiences, coming later this fall. Google mentioned that the new version of Android will fully support Daydream and we’ll start to see phones with special sensors released later this year that are “Daydream” ready.
Our take: It seems that there are plenty of companies throwing their hat in the ring to see who can have the best virtual reality system. We don’t know who will win, but one thing is for sure: If you have a brand looking to stand out and engage with users in a new medium, you might want to check out what you can do with VR. Whether it be a game or an interactive 360 video, a little bit of positive PR on the hotest new technology could go a long way towards solidifying your brand’s
Google has been developing and perfecting natural language processing over the past few years, and boy have they come a long way. If you’ve ever used Google’s voice search on your Android or iPhone, you’ve probably grown accustomed to saying “Call my wife”, “Navigate to the airport”, or even “What’s the score for [insert preferred team here]”. These seamless search interactions have made it even easier for us to pull up the information we need without getting distracted by an interface.
Over the past few years, this technology has been progressing to be even more conversational. You can ask “How tall is the empire state building?” then follow up with “What city is it in?” and “What’s the population there?” and Google will link together your queries to know that you’re referencing the subject from your previous question/answer. Google is now taking it one step further with Assistant, hoping to create a truly interactive AI where questions can be asked and solutions can be provided on the spot.
One example provided at the conference was the ability to look up and buy movie tickets. By just asking to see movie trailer, asking for show times near you, and requesting that tickets be bought, you were set in a matter of seconds. Google Assistant appears to be the final component to making voice search more humanized and natural for the end user.
Our Take: As Google develops their AI and data available in the knowledge graph, users will be less inclined to visit web pages and will start to get comfortable making more purchase decisions through easy text/voice chat bots. It’ll become increasingly important to make sure your site is optimized in a way that Google can extract relevant bits of information and complete purchases all without human interaction.
Google Home takes Google Assistant one step further by actually removing a physical interface and driving interactions solely by voice. Viewed as a competitor to Amazon’s Echo, Google Home is a wireless speaker that can be placed anywhere in your home and connected with other compatible bluetooth devices. Now, Google is at your beck and call anywhere in your house. Want pizza ordered? Just say so. Want music to play across the entire house? Done. Want to send a video to your bedroom TV? You got it.
Our Take: As voice-activated devices start to become the new norm in houses, users will start to be more comfortable carrying out actions that occur in “thin air”. Users are going to start demanding more personalized experiences so they can get rid of the fear of the technology “not doing exactly what I want it to” and start shifting towards a mindset of “I trust the device to do exactly what it knows I like”. The more you can integrate with these AI services and provide extra layers of customization for your customers, the better off you’ll be in the long run.
Android Instant Apps
Ever needed to use an app for only a few times? Do you dread downloading more apps to your phone for fear of bloating up your home screen? Well fear no longer with Google’s introduction of instant apps for Android. Now, instead of forcing users to download an app to get a better mobile experience with your brand, you can let them have the app experience without the hassle of downloading the full app. Through some technical black magic, Android apps can now be streamlined and made into a modular experience where users can click a button or link to download only the relevant parts of an app for their brief interaction.
Our Take: While apps typically have high brand engagement rates, there’s no sense in having separate experiences for mobile web and an app. Brands that want to make the process of purchasing/researching products on mobile more seamless should opt to take advantage of programs that ultimately give their users a better experience. Hopefully, we’ll begin to see the lines between apps/mobile sites blur over time, resulting in even better engagement rates on mobile devices.
And that’s a wrap! Google I/O 2016 had a lot of other great announcements, but we really felt that these were the most impactful to marketing for the course of this year. Can’t wait to see what Google comes up with next year!