If you’ve been on your smartphone in the past two years, you may have noticed Google’s search app starts you on a page with some pretty cool information. This screen is part of an effort to create a service called Google Now, where you’re shown the most relevant information that you need every time you decide to search something.
The coolest part about this start-up screen for Google Now is how context aware it is. Google is continually monitoring my location, my emails, and my search history to provide me with content that I want to look at every time I open up my phone. If the information isn’t something I care about, I can just swipe it away and Google will learn that I’m not interested. While can view the full list of Google Now features, here’s some cool examples where I’ve found Google Now to be the most useful:
- When I have a calendar event with an address, Google let’s me know the exact time that I need to leave to arrive on time, 10-15 minutes before I actually need to leave. Same thing for going to work and home every day – it knows when I usually leave!
- When I have a flight, Google pulls up the information the night before so I can always open up my phone and see if the flight is delayed or if the gate has changed.
- When I order online, Google automatically shows me tracking for that delivery I’m expecting.
- When I frequently search for a sports team (Rah, Rah, TCU), Google makes sure to pull up the score on game day.
- When I travel to a new location, Google pops up new cards that tell me the most popular attractions in the area and the best local restaurants I can choose from.
- When I frequently visit certain news sites, Google shows me the current top stories from the sites I love.
All this to say, I love how quickly Google Now has grown to provide me with content I care about. But as an advertiser, I hate it. Why?
I can’t advertise on it!
Google is storing all of this great data about a user’s purchase history, their personal likes and interests. their habits, their travel, their email subscriptions and more! However, as advertisers, we’re not able to capitalize on any of this information or this valuable real estate! As of right now, users are mostly being sent directly to Google’s restaurant pages, movie pages, travel pages, map pages, etc. As Google continues to grow this context-aware aspect of their search on mobile, I believe that users will begin to rely more heavily on relevant content coming to them.
So please, Google, pretty please, let’s open up Google Now to the highest bidder. Let us pay to show certain restaurants above others when you know that a user is traveling. Let us show customers “similar products” when they visit competitor’s pages. Let us show an ad to the user who has already done 3 searches looking for a new pair of headphones. Let us target the habitual Full House rerun watcher. There are so many cool ways that we as advertisers could take advantage of the data you’re collecting, honing our targeting to make advertising even more effective.
From my perspective, search is old news and contextual curation will lead the future. If Google gave us access to user behavior data, digital advertising would be a lot less distracting and a lot more helpful for everyone involved.