How Google Glass Will Bring Native Ads to the Physical World

As content strategists, we spend a lot of time thinking about native ads. After all, running content in-stream on publishers’ sites and social platforms is one of the easiest ways for brands to reach their desired audiences with great content, and native ads are pretty much the only type of advertising that works on mobile.

But what about the next iteration of mobile devices — wearable computers like Google Glass? Could native content ads pop off of publishers’ sites and into the world we live and breathe? And what opportunities will Google Glass bring to publishers overall?

To start to answer this question, we talked to Ari Mir, the CEO of Pocket Change, an innovative startup that, among other things, is bringing native ads to the Google Glass platform. Mir also happens to be a content strategist in his own right. Before getting into the ad game, Mir launched the publications Styling and Eating.

Ari Mir, CEO of Pocket Change.

I’m fascinated by the idea of making ads native to the real world. I’d love to hear more about what you’re working on.

Sure. Our mission at Pocket Change is to create marketing opportunities that align the interests of consumers, publishers and advertisers. Typically, there is this bargain between an ad network and a publisher. The publisher says, “I want to make more money.” The ad network says, “That’s fine, run these more intrusive, interruptive ads.” Unfortunately, that comes at the expense of the consumer and the user experience. We want to build ad products that actually improve the user experience. Instead of interrupting consumers with ads, we reward consumers with pocket change for positive organic moments in their digital lives.

For instance, let’s say Chrysta [Editor’s note: Chrysta is the Pocket Change PR rep listening in on the interview, so that’s who he’s referencing] pulls out her phone and books a dinner reservation for two. We want to be there and we want to reward her with Pocket Change for that dinner reservation. She can then go and redeem her currency in our store experience for sponsored virtual goods or sponsorship physical goods. That’s where our advertising lives. We’ve created an experience where the consumer is effectively seeking out the advertisements and getting value in exchange for that interaction.

How would this be applied to the Google Glass platform, potentially?

I have a pair of Google Glass, and when I wear them and I walk around, people always have two reactions. One is that people are scared that I’m recording them. I just have to assure them I’m not.

But the second reaction is kind of like, “Oh, well, I don’t know if I’m ever going to wear Google Glass because I feel like it’s just going to bombard me with a bunch of ads.” There’s this public perception that Google is going to use Google Glass as a platform to just shove a bunch of ads in their faces. While that may happen, I think it’s actually an opportunity to enrich the advertising experience. An opportunity where everyone benefits from advertising.

Advertising is not going away, obviously, so the question then becomes, “How do you create marketing opportunities where everyone benefits?” The cool thing about Google Glass is that it knows where you are at any given point in time. It knows you’re on the corner of Third and Howard, or it knows you’re in Beverley Hills. It also knows what you’re looking at — hopefully, in the future it will be able to detect if you’re looking at a billboard ad for Breaking Bad because you’re on the corner of Sunset and Fairfax, let’s say. What it should do, in our vision, is reward you with some sort of loyalty currency.

Whether it’s Pocket Change or Google Points or whatever it is, it should say, “Hey Chrysta, here’s 20 Google Points, since we noticed that you were looking at the Breaking Bad ad. By the way, these Google Points can immediately be redeemable for season four of Breaking Bad.”

You should create marketing opportunities that benefit the consumers, not annoy them.”

Would you also potentially integrate content into that experience? Like having a Breaking Bad video play as you’re looking at that billboard?

Yes. I mean, you can do that as well. Whether it’s a trailer or an episode or an entire season, what you want to do is reward the consumer with some sort of exclusive content.

That sounds very cool. Can you imagine other scenarios where marketers could integrate content into the Google Glass ad platform and deliver valuable content experiences to people in the real world?

Yes. Let’s say it’s 9 am, and you have your Google Glass on. You’re leaving your home. Google should be able to understand that it’s 9 am, that it’s a Monday, that you’re most likely walking to work, and that every time you walk to work you stop to get coffee and you always stop to get coffee at Starbucks. What it should do is say, “Hey, Ari, Blue Bottle is only a half a block away around the corner. If you take a different route to work today, Blue Bottle is willing to give you a free latte today.”

The latte is content. I know it’s a physical item, but if you think about it, it’s effectively content, right? They’re using that content to drive customer acquisition to Blue Bottle.

Yeah, that’s a really interesting case. Do you think there’s any way that publishers could potentially use it, say by enhancing the ads that show up in print magazines?

Yes, definitely. I think if you’re flipping through Vogue magazine and you’ve got your Google Glasses on, obviously Google should be able to detect that you’re flipping through Vogue and it should understand whether you’re just browsing through ads or whether you actually stop at an ad. If you stop at an ad for Louis Vuitton for more than a few seconds, it should know that. In my opinion, it should reward you for that.

Say you’re flipping through Vogue, Google Glass notices that you’re staring at an ad, and then it rewards you a certain amount of points for staring at it. Then maybe a piece of content pops up that you could view. Would you maybe get more points for watching that piece of content?

Yes, absolutely. The ad in the magazine is static, right? I’m sure Louis Vuitton, in this example, would love for you to actually watch a 30-second commercial. The problem is, you can’t really do that in a print magazine, but Google Glass can become a conduit for that.

Will people read magazines right on the Google Glass display? Do you see any interesting opportunities there for publishers?

That’s a good question. Definitely not in its current form, because it’s a very small window that you’re kind of looking at in the corner of your eye. I think in 10, 20 years there is a possibility that the form-factor of Google Glass could change such that it is a contact lens or you’re looking at some sort of HD experience. I think that’s likely, and, if that happens, then, yes, definitely, you’ll be able to consume full-blown content.

Any bold predictions about where the ad world is heading?

Everyone says they hate ads. Everyone. It’s a 600 billion industry built off of a bunch of hate, and I think that’s crazy. At Pocket Change, we think that you should rethink the advertising experience with the consumer’s interests in mind. You should create marketing opportunities that benefit the consumers, not annoy them. That’s our vision.

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