- Google plans to show search results in augmented reality (AR) to help smartphone users see more vivid imagery when looking for information about topics, the company announced at its I/O 2019 developers conference. Google showed how brands can use AR for product information, including with a demonstration of sportswear brand New Balance letting mobile users virtually try on shoes.
- Google Lens, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to identify objects with a smartphone camera, added new features like visual language translation of signs, audio reading of text, video demonstrations of recipes seen in magazines and scanning restaurant menus to show the most popular dishes.
- Google Assistant, the company's voice-powered virtual assistant, was upgraded to be 10-times faster in responding to spoken requests. Google plans to add a hands-free driving mode to Assistant to provide personalized suggestions on navigation, messages, calling and media. The company also introduced a newly designed Android Auto dashboard to make the in-car platform easier to use without distracting drivers.
Google's latest batch of upgraded services will give mobile marketers more opportunities to engage with their customers throughout the day. Google's new Lens and the addition of AR content to its search results mean that brands will eventually need to optimize their marketing materials — including product catalogs — to get noticed when customers are most likely to indicate that they're in the market for a product or service. Search engine optimization (SEO) increasingly will include visual materials and AR objects, Google's announcements suggest.
The New Balance demonstration indicates that brands with AR content will be more likely to get noticed and to engage potential customers in an immersive experience. Virtual try-ons have become par for the course in the retail space, and brands like Adidas and Warby Parker have used Snapchat and Apple's ARKit to develop them. Google's move in this space could allow brands to shrink the sales funnel between search, try on and purchase.
Google Assistant's greater speeds and the upgrades to the Android Auto dashboard indicate Google is more intent on reaching mobile users while they're in their cars, as well. In-car commerce is forecast to grow as carmakers and tech companies build out car connectivity, especially when next-generation 5G service expands nationwide in the next two years.
Daily commuting times represent a $230 billion in-car commerce opportunity for mobile marketers, according to a study by PYMNTS.com and P97 Networks. Google-owned Waze, the social navigation app, last month shifted focus to what it calls "destination-based marketing" from location-based ads to highlight how its social navigation app helps mobile marketers reach on-the-go consumers. Coinciding with the I/O news, iHeartRadio announced that its on-demand music service will be available on Android Auto later this year, giving the Google platform a partner as the audio advertising market heats up.