Commentary

Google Goggles Emerging As Search Marketing Option

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Marketers continue to struggle on how to use interactive gaming. Just about 10% pilot games through online or social channels; only 8% toy with augmented reality today, with 18% planning to try it in the future, according to Forrester Research Principal Analyst Shar VanBoskirk.

Of the 113 U.S. companies with more than 200 employees worldwide surveyed, 20% plan to pilot an online community in the next 12 months, compared with 31% or plan to pilot mobile search within the next year. The findings appear in the Interactive Marketing Channels To Watch In 2010 report released this week.

While VanBoskirk believes brands should experiment with emerging technologies, she suggests "proceeding with caution into mobile search," because it won't become as "foolproof" as online search. Mobile search engines today typically default to HTML sites, not WAP, delivering a spotty customer experience. Keyword pricing also lacks transparency, according to the report.

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But some interesting emerging mobile search options will become available soon for those willing to take a chance. Google, for example, continues work on Google Goggles, which lets iPhone handset owners and devices running Android take a photo with a camera phone to search the Web to identify and get more information about the object.

Today, the tool works best with books, DVDs, landmarks, logos, contact info, artwork, businesses, products, barcodes or text. It's not so good when taking pictures of animals, plants, cars, furniture or apparel. So when I heard about plans by Darren Shuster, founder of Pop Culture PR, a Los Angeles-based guerrilla advertising marketing firm, to launch a promotion for MyNines.com sometime this month that illuminates the side of a New York skyscraper a light went off in my head.

The campaign Pop Culture PR designed literally turns on the lights for one hour in a select group of offices in a high-rise building. Shuster doesn't expect to run into trouble with authorities around city ordinances because the campaign doesn't require hanging a banner or posting a sign.

MyNines.com's campaign relies on working with the building's management team to use the existing lights in offices. MyNines.com plans to promote a quick sale for a local jeweler using the building's lights, but Shuster declined to elaborate on specifics such as when and where.

As Shuster described the promotion I thought what a great opportunity to tie it into Google Goggles. How could an advertiser link to a photograph of an image made of lights on the side of a skyscraper to a Web site or landing page?

Shailesh Nalawadi, product manager of Google Goggles, says the advertiser could send Google multiple pictures of the building displaying the particular image using lights taken from many different angles. If the lights made a U.S. flag, Google would process the images and associate them with a particular keyword such as "U.S. flag," or "Independence Day New York," for example. "We do not have the ability for our users to send us annotated pictures yet; however, we hope to roll out such a feature in the near future," he says.

Goggles will attempt to match the whole or parts of the image against its reference database of images. In the case of famous buildings, it will likely find a match against the building regardless of what pattern or image is being displayed on the building via lights, according to Nalawadi.

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