The Future Of Advertising In Your Eyes Today: Google Glass & Field Trip

field-trip-logoYou no longer need to imagine what a world would be like where ads leap out at you, customized to your surroundings. That world has arrived, though the recently launched Field Trip app for Google Glass.

Sure, Field Trip isn’t really showing ads yet. Sure, Google Glass is still only in limited release. But I’ve seen that future first hand. It’s coming, likely soon, for more people. Come along to discover more.

Discovering The World With Field Trip

Field Trip is an app launched last year, for both Android and iPhone. It was created by Niantic, which is a mobile-oriented start-up/lab within Google and headed by former Google Maps head John Hanke. It alerts you to interesting things around you, through notifications on your phone.

That’s cool; that’s interesting, but it requires you to reach for your phone. I don’t know about you, but my phone is already littered with a ton of notifications always streaming in. An alert from Field Trip, unless I’m really caring about it, isn’t so noticeable.

The release of the Field Trip app for Google Glass about two weeks ago changes all that. Dramatically. There’s no missing an Field Trip alert. Suddenly, something of interest is right there, in your vision, with a quick touch on Glass. Easy.

I installed Field Trip for Glass soon after it was announced and promptly forgot about it. I got my first reminder while paddleboarding around the harbor Newport Beach, California. I often wear Glass when doing this, as they’re ideal for taking pictures of interesting things (yes, I’m pretty trusting that I don’t fall off; no, I don’t).

Field Trip Meets Google Glass

When something new comes into Glass, such as a text message, or maybe a tweet from people you’ve designated, or some other limited notification, you get a short tone in your ear, a trigger to either tilt your head up to see the alert or to tap on the side of Glass to display it. That’s what Field Trip did to me, when I went near one of the places it wanted to alert me to. I tapped, and saw this:

balboa island bridge

At first, I was confused. I didn’t know what “Arcadia Publishing” was and why this was suddenly showing up in Glass. When the next one came up, I finally figured it out. This was from Field Trip, and Arcadia is one of several content partners that Field Trip draws from.

Learning More About Your Surroundings

As I went around the harbor that day, and in subsequent trips, more notifications came in from a variety of partners. I know Newport Harbor pretty well, but even I was impressed to be learning things so easily from Field Trip as my virtual tour guide. Here’s an example from when I went by the former Cano’s restaurant building, a harbor icon, and now A’maree’s fashion boutique:


With a further touch, I was able to read more about it:

Might We Recommend….

Learning more about the harbor so easily (remember, all this was happening while I was on a paddleboard) was pretty amazing, but the sense of the future of advertising having arrived really struck home when I got a few of Google-owned Zagat restaurant alerts. Zagat also feeds into Field Trip, and this is one of the recommendations I received:


I know the Cannery well; it’s a favorite restaurant of ours, for special occasions. For anyone new to Newport, it’s a great recommendation (as were several of the others). With a tap, I was able to read more about it:

read more cannery

See the interior:

cannery inside

Or get directions (and Glass would have navigated me there):


Surprisingly, I couldn’t call to make a reservation or get more information.

The Ads Are Coming To Wearables

For the time being, Google remains steadfast that Glass is an ad-free zone. No pay-per-gaze is coming, despite that patent you might have heard about. But it’s pretty obvious that ads will eventually come to Glass, just as they come to almost every part of Google, unless the company sees some strategic reason to avoid them (with Google+, for example, keeping it ad-free is a selling point Google uses against Facebook).

Field Trip provides an excellent glimpse into how ads might happen, based on your location, showing up within your vision or being just a tap away. Restaurant recommendations could just as easily be restaurant ads or ads for any business with a special or offer.

Of course, we already have location-aware suggestions and ads from a variety of apps and providers. I personally notice these mostly through Foursquare, as I wrote about before, and those just got ramped up with a new push service that’s part of the Foursquare Android app.

And, of course, virtually no one has Google Glass. With only around 10,000 people wearing them, Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley made a valid point last week about not wanting to build a Foursquare app for Google Glass until “real people” are wearing them.

But wearable tech will almost certainly grow. Glass, I have no doubt, will morph into a lower-cost, less-geeky looking device that will people will want to use. Meanwhile, smart watches from Samsung and Apple are expected, and Google may be getting in on the act, too, with its WIMM Labs acquisition.

Wearable tech, whether watches or eyewear, has less “fiction” for showing messages, including advertisements, than smartphones. I know, I know — how hard is it to reach for that phone and push a button? But as a user of wearable tech, it really does make a difference.

Get ready for that future. It’s not as far off as you might think. And FYI, it’s also a topic of a special session we’re having at our upcoming SMX East marketing conference in New York next month, Glass Act: Marketers Talk Google Glass.

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Related Topics: Channel: Mobile Marketing | Features & Analysis | Google: Glass | Top News


About The Author: is Founding Editor of Marketing Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search marketing and internet marketing issues, who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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