George Saunders’ collection of short stories In Persuasion Nation includes a piece entitled “My Flamboyant Grandson.” Perhaps one of the most realistic depictions of the future of advertising, the narrator tells his audience about a world where consumers are forced to wear special shoes while walking down the streets of New York City. As people pass by shops, holographic advertisements jump out and target marketing messages at them directly. If pedestrians refuse to wear their shoes, they are cited by a special task force. At first, the idea of forcing advertisements on users for simply walking by brick-and-mortars seems crazy, until Google’s latest patent for Google Glass is considered.
The new technology reveals a plan for eye-tracking sensors in Google Glass. The “pay-per-gaze” model would charge brands if users of the product looked at a specific advert – both online and off. The patent outlines a gaze-tracking technique that determines what a user is seeing.
For brands with sophisticated content marketing strategies, this technology could prove costly or beneficial. If Google finds a way to charge companies simply for having high-quality SEO content, marketers must do everything in their power to create collateral that compels immediate action. Failing to truly resonate with gazers will result in a loss and potentially threaten marketing budgets moving forward.
As Saunders’ fictitious world becomes fully realized, brands will be forced to consider how epic technology advancements alter communication and engagement with offline and online content. It’s an important idea to ponder: Does Google Glass represent the massive change in computing that will push humankind toward Jetsons-like habitats, or does it represent a fleeting trend barely appealing to prospects in the now?