Google’s ‘Pay-Per-Gaze’ Play And The Reality Of Wearable Ad Technologies


ADOTAS – While Google claims it has no specific plans to inject advertising into its wearable computing spectacles, the leading search company recently filed a patent that could make pay-per-gaze tracking a reality. The recently granted patent is a “head-mounted gaze tracking device” that allows real-world ads to be translated into digital behaviors.

The filing explains that the technology would transmit both images and the direction of a person’s gaze to a server for analysis, and that advertisers could be charged a fee based on whether a person looks directly at the ad in the real world with a premium for ads that hold a users attention longer.

As the New York Times reported, Google said in a statement that it did not plan to actually build products based on the eye-tracking patent in the immediate future.

“We hold patents on a variety of ideas,” the company said. “Some of those ideas later mature into real products of services, some don’t. Prospective product announcements should not necessarily be inferred from our patents.”

But Rob Rusher, principal consultant and founder of Google Glass app development company On3, has his own views on the patent filing.

“Since Google already owns the patents on ‘gazed-based advertising’ and their core business is based around advertising, I can guarantee that there will be advertising opportunities,” said Rusher. “We can see Glass being used in a more effective way than the NFC features that are being used in iPhones today.  From an advertiser’s perspective, it doesn’t get much more perfect than begin able to serve an ad to a potential customer at the moment that user is ready to buy something, and in their line of sight, no less.  It’s a lot easier to ignore the phone in your pocket or purse, don’t you think?”

But if Google isn’t immediately entering into the pay-per-gaze arena, Glass app developers like On3 and Pocket Change recognize the potential and are jumping on the bandwagon en masse.

“The biggest potential for advertisers is creating marketing opportunities for local retailers,” said Ari Mir, CEO and co-founder of Pocket Change. “The idea is, if you are walking down the street and see an ad for a local coffee shop, for example, your glasses could reward you with a free latte if you’re willing to walk up the street to Blue Bottle instead of Starbucks.”

Pocket Change, a Google Ventures-backed ad platform, is developing technology that will work in tandem with Glass to integrate video ad experiences into real-world activities. For example, if a person looks at a billboard for the television show “Breaking Bad” for more than three seconds, a video trailer for the finale could come to life before his eyes.

Here’s how it works: First, Glass uses image recognition to find an ad and match it against a visual database. Then once a user stares at the ad for long enough, they gain virtual currency that can then be redeemed to view the trailer on mobile devices like iPads and smartphones.

“We are trying to create marketing opportunities where the consumer, advertiser, and publisher’s interests are all aligned,” said Mir. “Pocket Change partners with apps, to reward users with real world goods for positive organic behavior within those apps. Imagine earning American Express points by engaging with your favorite apps.”

When asked about the creepiness factor of these types of eye-tracking technologies, Mir responded, “Benefits for advertisers are that you can actually measure true engagements. There is a creepiness factor, but any of these services need to be opt-in on the part of the consumer. Because Pocket Change offers something of value, consumers don’t mind opting in.”

On3′s’ Rusher added, “From an advertising perspective, marketers and advertisers will have a distinct advantage of personalizing content based on search and short-range geographic information; i.e. I was searching for a new frying pan the other day and I’m currently looking in the general direction of the William-Sonoma store that is 50 meters away.  With the ability to put a great-looking advertisement right in front of the consumers eye, versus a text message, advertisers will see better conversion rates.”


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