As a technologist and a marketer, I sometimes wonder why things in technology take so long to happen, even when they seem obvious to me. It is not that I think I have all the answers, but there are things that Google (in conjunction with a few providers) could be doing to revolutionize business worldwide. I am still waiting. All the technical pieces are actually in existence for what follows, which is a fictional day using these tools to their full potential. All that would be required is a bit of cooperation among competing vendors to make it so.
The following scenario requires NO NEW TECHNOLOGY to put into reality TODAY.
Picture This: (fiction)
On a sunny day in Vancouver, I find myself out picking up dry cleaning mid-morning. As I arrive at the location of my dry cleaner, my Galaxy Nexus rings a custom “information” ring, pre-setup by Google through the Android OS via over the air update. My phone has noticed from GPS coordinates that I have been here before, and that my Dry Cleaner will give me 10% off on my cleaning if I will click a 1-5 star review, which will be posted on the Public stream on Google +, and on my local page as a “preferred vendor.”
The vendor has previously setup his Google Maps account and Google has added the GPS coordinates to the phones of anyone who has circled the vendor, along with adding their address to Google Maps in a folder called “Circled Vendors”. If anyone else with this information enters the local vendor’s establishment, Google moves that vendor’s information into the “Preferred Vendor” folder. This allows the Dry Cleaner to send text messages to the phone’s owner, so that he is notified in the future when their Dry Cleaning is available.
Having previously signed up for “Google Me”, I leave a 4 out of 5 review because they forgot the starch, but I leave out my reason in the review. The vendor will later send me a text message automatically, asking me how to earn that 5th star. With the added incentive of an additional 10% off on my next visit for a reply, I let him know about the starch without having to leave a negative public review, where upon completion, a coupon is sent to my Gmail account for future use.
Using “Google Me” requires that I leave my GPS tracking on to receive benefits, coupons, notifications of events that I am interested in, from the data in my Google + account information. This is spelled out completely in the “Google Me” TOS. (Terms Of Service)
Hanging my clothes in my truck, I decide I can go for some Mexican food. I tell my phone, through its “Google Now” software, that I’m hungry for Mexican food, and it responds by bringing up a list of the Mexican food restaurants I’ve visited, with those with Google Maps accounts near the top, but the top listings are for those places that I like so much that I’ve circled them on Google +. Two of them are blinking, letting me know that in exchange for a review, I will get 10% off my meal. By pressing on that option, the screen switches to a menu of options. I can call ahead and place my order, or place the order and pay in advance over the mobile menu, with the money coming right out of Google wallet.
By the time I arrive at the restaurant, my food is ready, and I have saved both time and money through only a few phone clicks.
A total win for me, but for my vendors, it is even better.
You see, when I arrived at my Dry Cleaner, and then later at the Mexican restaurant, through my GPS, each vendor was informed of my arrival at their location through a coordinates match. The arrival is listed as a “Store View” in Google’s “Business Analytics”. Through the conversion of my arrival into a financial transaction, the vendor earns a “conversion point”. If I arrived but did not make a purchase, it would have be listed as a “buy-bounce”, and in Analytics measured in the same way as bounce rates are measured on websites.
Why it works:
Vendors count how many persons visit their locations and build a percentage model of shoppers vs. buyers. These numbers are supposed to suggest ways to improve their conversion percentage, but it is usually a crapshoot without knowing anything in particular about the shopper.
If a vendor signs up for “Google Me for Vendors”, he receives a daily analytics report about the demographic of the people who entered their location from their Google + account information. Once the vendor understands just what kind of shopper they are attracting, they can either make pricing or branding adjustments to better serve that particular demographic, or make changes to their marketing to attract a different audience.
Vendors who sign up for “Google Me for Vendors”, have no risk, because similar to Google Adwords, they only pay Google after a successful conversion; approximately 5% of the sale, attached from either monthly billing or Google Wallet just like with major Credit Cards.
As I left the Mexican restaurant, my phone beeped with a message thanking me for my order, and asking me if I would let them round up my order to the next dollar and send the difference to the United Way on my behalf. With a quick push of “Yes”, it is all completed.
Later that evening, after arriving for a Canucks game at Rogers Arena, my phone lets me know that although I purchased tickets over Google Wallet prior to my arrival, there are still better seats available, so “Google Me” asks if I would like to upgrade, along with an associated discount, taking into account the ticket value I’ve already paid. I press “Yes”, and the transaction completes.
I then receive instructions to turn in my old ticket pair at the special window (no lines) for “Google Me” users, where I receive the new tickets and a complementary beer. I also have the option to leave my car keys at the window, because thanks to “Google Me”, they already know exactly where I parked my car, and they offer me free valet service and invite me after the game into their sobriety lounge, where free coffee and sodas are served, before I drive home.
The next morning, my phone has discounted ticket options for the next 3 Hockey games, with an offer that if I purchase seats for all three, I can pick up two complementary Canucks jerseys at the “Google Me” window; they only need to know mine and my wife’s sizes.
Why it matters:
I want you to consider not just the service I received, but also the information treasure-trove that the various vendors received in those transactions. They know who I am, along with my demographics. Google knows the make and model of my car, my phone; they know my sports preferences. Google knows whether I am single or married, and whether or not I am the kind of customer they want or outside their target marketing, in addition to whether or not others who fit the same categories might be interested in the same hyper-direct marketing of services.
Do you think that data is not a gold-mind to other potential vendors? How much do you think the owners of the HP Pavilion in San Jose would pay for this information to use with Sharks fans? Google not only charges a profitable rate for this custom data, they kick back Rogers Arena because they were a pilot member of the “Google Me” program.
Back home, with the money I have saved for being in the “Google Me” program, I can throw down for another Google Nexus and get my wife off that iPhone for the last time.
I want to reiterate that all of the above is possible RIGHT NOW. Google can DO THIS. They have hundreds of Petabytes of information about you and me, especially since Google + ties it all together into a neat little package and wraps it in a nice little bow called “Identity”. This is the reason for, and the value of Google +.
Google is an identity engine.
Like the Primary Key in a Database, Google + is the engine that ties all this data that Google has been collecting for years with a single point of reference, that being YOU. I want to make sure you understand this. If you’ve wondered why Apple is now scrambling to get into Search, and why the Facebook IPO was a failure, it’s because as it stands right now, only Google can do this, and it will be years before anyone else can even attempt it. Facebook would require total integration with Bing.
Google has both data and identities. Facebook has data, and no current way to provide relevant advertising to its user base outside of a number of limited demographic groupings. If anyone wonders why Apple’s “Siri” was recently smashed in multiple performance comparison tests by “Google Now”, is because Google has got so much more data to pull from, they can actually add personal context to your searches, or in short: RELEVANCE. Social Media has given both Apple and Facebook a great amount of insight into what you “like”, which is fine, but only Google knows who you are.
So, why has Google not created what I am calling “Google Me” yet? Who is to say it is not already under development? If I were you, I would be checking before investing in any more Facebook stock, people… If Google pulls this off, or something like it, with all the associated patents, copyrights and other protections, it is really game-over for their competition. If Google is NOT doing this, they need to call me to scope it out for them. I can work for Gummi Bears. (However, I will not)