Google Now Delivers Location-Aware Targeted Advertising

by Matt Klassen on May 8, 2014

As we wait for the day that delivery drones eliminate the need for us ever to go shopping again, Google has devised a clever marriage between online search and physical brick and mortar retail locations. The search engine giant has added a new feature to its Google Now personal assistant, one that notifies users when they’re in close physical proximity to a store that might have an item they’ve recently searched for.

Using the phone’s location awareness capabilities, Google will now blend search results with location, meaning, for instance, that if you’ve recently searched online for a particular pair of shoes you would receive an alert on your phone when walking or driving near a store that normally carriers that particular shoe. As it stands the feature won’t say if the product is in stock, leaving room for future advances (and lots of user frustration) I suppose.

Until now Google’s strongest push into the e-commerce sector has been its search specific advertisements that pop up everywhere you look on the web these days, but there’s no question that this latest advance is part of a more concerted effort to establish a presence in online retail, using its current suite of location aware services to drive more customers towards its advertising partners.

Google’s new feature for its Google Now assistant is ostensibly an auto-generated shopping list, a compilation of recent product and service searches that the platform then connects with the products of advertising partners. When users are within a certain distance of said advertising partner’s retail location they will be alerted via a pop-up containing a picture and pricing information where that product is available.

Of course the downside, if one could call it that, of Google’s e-commerce plan is that it still requires consumers to enter the physical world, unlike Amazon who lets us shop and purchase with barely having to lift a finger. But Google’s entry into the physical realm is not only a natural progression for the search engine giant, as we all depend on the company to direct us from Point A to Point B anyways, but a natural evolution of the way the digital and physical worlds interact.

“It’s brilliant,” said Doug Stephens, founder of Retail Prophet and author of Retail Revival. “It’s a meta-service that begins to learn more about us as consumers and increasingly begins to point us toward things of interest in the physical world. The whole premise behind Google Now is to become the omnipresent digital assistant in our lives, so it makes perfect sense for it to also curate our consumer lives.”

While I find such omniscience and omnipresence disconcerting, as it robs humans of the ability of actually figuring out things themselves, I can’t argue with the fact that such technology is the way of the future, blending together multiple digital services in a way that actually impacts (and aids) our existence in the physical world.

The problem of course will be further blending the realities of the brick and mortar world with real time search results, meaning if Google Now is telling users that products are available at a certain location when in fact they aren’t, people will quickly start to distrust the feature.

In the end, while e-commerce giant Amazon is looking forward to the day when automated drones fly us our packages, Google surprisingly enough is living in the now, having found a unique (if not slightly disturbing) way to blend its services in an effort to make its advertising more effective.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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