Concept Vending Machine

This hi-tech vending machine uses a transparent display and touch-screen interface to spice up the experience of selecting your favorite candy bar. The machine is a concept model out of Japan and uses “anonymous facial recognition” to tailor the experience it delivers based on the age and gender of the person standing in front of the machine.

It’s exciting to see experiences like this one being developed, and might give a peak into what’s to come in the next generation of interactive billboards, window displays and so forth. However, despite the machine’s effort to create targeted experiences for each customer, there is room for even deeper personalization of an in-person experience that could be achieved by tapping into a person’s social graph.

NFC’s Potential Role Within Interactive Displays

The emergence of NFC will make it easier for people to seamlessly connect with brands with little more than a tap of their smartphone in the near future. Applications like Google wallet are already refining mobile ad methods that leverage purchasing data recorded by NFC payments via smartphones. Couple mobile wallet data with an increasingly rich social graph that could also be tapped into via an NFC interface and you can start to imagine the kind of powerful experiences that could be served up featuring powerful social cues and purchase recommendations.

Where Google+ Fits Into The Social Fold

Google+ Adoption Relative to Facebook and Twitter

What does Google+ mean for business and brands?

If you pay attention to the social media world you know about Google+. Now that brands and businesses are beginning to understand the benefit of a well-run social media presence decision makers want to know if they should consider building a presence on Google+ when it opens up to more businesses.

Despite the incredible trajectory Google+ is on, it’s still going to be a while until it makes sense for brands -if it ever does. But that might be a good thing because in my opinion, if it does get to the scale and diversity in users that it would need to broadly appeal to businesses we will need a thoughtfull approach to engaging in the network.

New features refocus on UX and Privacy

Google has built a platform that focuses on privacy and making a social network personal again.

  •  A core element of that approach is Circles. This feature allows users to easily create groups of friends around topics, activities, or relationship type. This means that brands won’t have the luxury of being embedded into the same newsfeed as a person’s friends and family. Rather, it’s likely that if a person does decide to connect with a brand, they will be slotted into a “companies I like” circle. If the content you (and possible brands in your group) don’t offer really compelling value (either in the form of a rich engagement or special deals) your audience won’t bother seeing what you have to say.
  • Video chat and real-time communication are important features for the a richer, more personal experience on the platform. If people take advantage of these features, it will define the norms of engagement. It is difficult for many brands to create a personal feel on their social media assets. Being able to make another big step and do that in the form of video chat or real time conversation will be an added challenge.
  • One factor of “Facebook fatigue” is attributed to the presence of brands on the platform. Many early adopters of Google+ see it as a an opportunity for a social media refresh much like Facebook was for a diluted Myspace experience (yes Myspace still exists.. kind of). This will make people less likely to accept brands on the platform if they feel it will threaten the integrity of the new network they want to build.
Should I start planning my Google+ presence now to get ahead of the curve?
To put it simply… neh. Maybe I should put an asterisk next to that overly confident “neh”. Google+ won’t usurp Facebook given it sticks with the present capabilities and features. Although there has been a big influx of tech forward early adopters, it doesn’t change the game enough to gain broader adoption unless it has something else up its sleeve. Facebook is still where the largest audience is. Despite the 750 Million people on Facebook, the network has changed enough times that norms for sharing in the network are always shifting. Start thinking about Google+ when it comes out with offerings for brands IF that’s where your audience is. Otherwise, your investment will reap bigger returns elsewhere.

Google Adds New Search Tool for Chrome

Google is coming out with a new tool that makes suggestions that relates to content you’re already viewing. Business Insider has a nice writeup on it here.

Social media continues to put the last nail in the coffin for the destination web, Google’s new toy hedges the bet for Google + vs Facebook. Larger and larger percentage of content is viewed somewhere other than it’s original source, context is as powerful as content when it comes to search.

By throwing out a product that piggybacks on user’s newly adopted behavior of discovering news and content through social networks (The most recent stat I heard was that over 70% of young adults get their news via Facebook) Google’s suggestions can blend social and search without making users… well… search.

It’s unclear if there are plans to later integrate ads into the suggestions, much like they have done with their search engine. In any case, this seems to be the right step… We’ll see if it catches on.