What Google Android Wear & Wearables Could Mean for Search

I’m a massive Android geek and a fan of (mostly) everything Google, so I’m excited to see the developments in so-called ‘wearable’ tech. I own a Sony SmartWatch 2 and am currently impatiently waiting for the Motorola 360 that’s due out later this year. With the recent announcements at Google I/O around Android L and the new ‘Google Android Wear’ it’s clear that Google (and the hardware manufacturers) are trying to push far more functionality into these devices.

Just watch the below video for a taste of the things they’re hoping will be available on them:

It’s quickly clear that there’s going to be a lot of potential information much more readily available to Google Wear adopters and it’s not too bold to assume that the masses will soon be happily adopting this sort of tech.

What Does This Mean For Marketing?

As a marketer I’m already thinking about how these things could have an impact on both the way users search and the way that we market to them.

Local Search

With the ever increasing rise in smartphones and tablet devices Google quickly realised the way people searched was changing. Back in February 2012 they released the ‘Venice’ update to their algorithm which focussed on so-called local search. It made sense that people searching from devices or for certain terms were looking for local information. If you’re searching on your phone for ‘restaurants’ chances are you’re looking for a local place to eat, not the best eatery in the UK. So it makes sense to get local map listing results rather than a series of websites to visit. This means you have to optimise your business for ‘local search’ and ensure you have a good presence on Google Maps.

Now we have tiny devices on our wrists that we can talk to and get information on, the way that data is served may well be different as well.

Say “OK Google” and you’ve got a wealth of potential open to you – navigation to the business location, reviews, and contact information, plus the ability to call directly from your watch. It’s all there and much more as well. It might be that we’re suddenly having to optimise our businesses not only for local search, nor for mobile search but for watch and glass queries.

Informational Searches

Mobile search has made our lives as consumers far simpler; if you’re out shopping you can check the prices of something you’re looking to buy online or perhaps look to see if a local store has stock. You can easily search to see what the opening hours are or how to get there on foot. You can even compare prices of products you’re looking at or check reviews. But that still requires you getting your phone out of your pocket and tapping away…

Now imagine a world where you could talk to your wrist and get that information with far less input – with results being returned in digestible and easily accessible chunks. This might mean an increase in the number of people making these kinds of informational searches but also a need to consider the implications of such. Brick and mortar stores might well have to think about adjusting their pricing to counter searches where people are in the shop with the product right in front of them and use their tech to compare prices online and end up buying from a competitor as a result. This is already an issue, but may become more of one in future.

Similarly we’ll need to consider optimising local listings to ensure consumers find glowing reviews, accurate contact information and up-to-date opening hours.

Mobile Friendly Websites

There’s no hint that people will be trying to view entire websites on their watch. But it’s not unreasonable to think that it might happen at some point. You can get a browser for my SmartWatch, but the thought of all the pinching and zooming you’d have to do is enough to put me off. Though that doesn’t mean others will feel the same or that they won’t find something to make this process more accessible.

Having said that, with easy access to search data, there’s the possibility that people might pull their phone out of their pocket and start looking for your website once they’ve seen a review on their watch. So we may find a rise in mobile traffic as a result of these tech advancements – the result? A need for even more mobile-friendly websites. You’re probably fed up with hearing about responsive design, but there’s a good reason behind it!

Apps

Google Wear and other Smartwatches are nothing without the apps that support them. Developers are eagerly pushing and testing the boundaries of the technology. From a marketing perspective we should be thinking about the simple, appealing apps we could be creating to get users engaging with our brands.

Notifications & Emails

One of the best features of Smartwatches is easy access to your notifications. I’ve found (and I’m not the only one) that with a Smartwatch on your wrist, there’s far less reason to pull your phone out of your pocket every time it vibrates or beeps at you to alert you to an incoming message. This means I can easily ignore less important emails and messages, until I’m ready to deal with them – filtering out the chaff and only paying attention to the really important information. That means that most sales emails that land in my inbox won’t be opened even interacted with as soon as they might otherwise be.

For marketers this means we’ll have to consider subject lines even more closely. With less retail space to deal with (Smartwatch screens aren’t that big after all) you’ll have to get a really attractive subject line and a great CTA in there to get people to open the email on their device.

Google Glass

The Google Glass Explorer Programme just recently reached our shores and although it’s still early days (and by no means near consumer release yet) there’s still a lot of potential there. Again, we’ll have to consider the way search will change with this sort of technology. Not just that but the way people will interact with businesses and brands. It’s easy to think about heads up style displays for navigating your way around stores or augmented reality advertising to grab a customer’s attention as they browse.

The future is bright and rather exciting…