Google Glass as a Marketing Tool

A number of organizations are piloting Google Glass, and some seem to be seeking marketing opportunities instead of just technology efficiencies, according to CIO.com blogger Al Sacco.

I've been writing quite a bit about wearable technology lately, and Google Glass has been one of my focal points.

In keeping an eye on Glass-related news, I spotted what appears to be a burgeoning trend: Organizations using Glass not only for its potential value as a tech tool, but to garner headlines and draw attention in Glass-centered marketing ploys.

Virgin Atlantic Google Glass pilot

Late last month, I wrote about the Sacramento Kings professional basketball team using Glass to engage TV viewers in new ways — and grab some headlines in the process.

Today, CNBC.com published a piece on an ongoing Virgin Atlantic Glass pilot program, which has some airport staff greeting customers while wearing Glass.

From the CNBC.com post:

"In an effort to boost its Upper Class customer service, the British airline's concierge staff at London Heathrow will use a range of gadgets to start the check-in process as soon as passengers arrive at the airport…The staff will use wearable tech such a Google Glass to see things like flight information, access weather forecasts and find out about events at the passenger's destination."

The article doesn't mention just how Glass is expected to improve the customer experience, or if Virgin is using custom Glass apps (a.k.a. "Glassware"), but an analyst told the publication that though he sees value in the idea, it could "actually slow down the process as passenger's [sic] will ask lots of questions because it's so new and novel."

Gee, that sounds like an effective use of technology.

I also wonder just how these Glass-equipped reps will provide a better experience than their counterparts with PCs or mobile devices. I own Glass, and I'm familiar with how it works. It can be rather awkward talking to the device, repeatedly looking at the tiny display and simultaneously trying to communicate with people around you. A well-designed app could mitigate this issue, but again, it's unclear how Virgin Atlantic is using Glass.

Based on the image from CNBC above, which looks a whole lot like marketing material to me, it's clear that this particularly pilot is not just about the potential process improvements or customer service enhancements.

I'm reminded of the semi-recent business trend of using iPads for various customer interactions, whether they're truly helpful or not, in an effort to draw attention via the popular tablets. ("Ooooo, shiny iPads!") In the not-too-distant future, you could see Glass show up in much the same way iPads did during past years, even though the business benefits may be less clear than the marketing value.

AS

Image: Getty Images via CNBC.com

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