Google has undertaken a novel marketing experiment in London. Called “Google Outside,” and first reported by the website Campaign, Google and agency R/GA have deployed 160 digital displays at bus stops and underground stations across London.
The electronic displays offer “local search” information on tourist attractions, businesses and entertainment. As far as we can tell from the available information users cannot directly interact with the displays but they will change based on weather conditions and other variables.
Apparently Google Now technology is involved. The pictured image (credit: TheDrum) shows a huge Google Now-like “card” occupying the display. A Google spokesperson was quoted saying that the “screens that will anticipate people’s needs and make their lives easier.”
The campaign will certainly get attention and generate buzz. The duration of the campaign is not clear, nor is Google’s precise ambition. Is it to raise awareness of Google Now? Is it pure branding? Is it a play for more mobile search and maps usage? All of the above?
One question not answered in the material I’ve seen: whether Google is able to determine how many users spend time looking at the displays. However if they utilize LED lighting it’s possible the displays could identify nearby smartphones to determine how many people are interacting with the kiosk. This is pure speculation on my part, however.
Depending on how it all goes it’s possible we’ll see “Google Outside” in other cities. That’s also speculation.
While this campaign will be hailed as unique and innovative (which it is) Google is not the first to do something like this. Yahoo for a brief time promoted Yahoo Maps back in 2004 with digital kiosks at New York City bus stops.