When Google Wave was unveiled last year, the complex communication platform offered marketers ad placements and the ability to join in consumer conversations in real time – seemingly ideal for driving word-of-web referrals. Now, Google Wave is crashing – the company announced it will discontinue development of the service, though some of the technological components may be offered in other Google projects. Marketers trying to decide where to spend their ad dollars may take this as a cue that consumers like multifunctional, engaging platforms – but they won’t respond to sites that are too ambiguous for effective use.
Google Wave is a nebulous service, and it may have been too ambitious with its offerings. Google explains that user-created waves are “live, shared space[s] on the web where people can discuss and work together using richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps and more.” It was positioned as the next generation of email, IM and real-time collaboration tools.
When it was first released – before social sites like Facebook and Twitter offered significant advertising tools – marketers saw opportunities for contextual ad placements and some hoped the real-time conversations would offer insight on brand chatter, giving them the chance to shape perceptions of their brands. Still, others were worried about the complex nature of Google Wave, thinking it may not catch on as an advertising platform with ads lost in the shuffle.
As it turns out, users felt lost in the shuffle as well, making marketing on the platform a moot point. Google says, “Wave has not seen the user adoption we would have liked.”
While marketers can gain advantages by being the first to move into emerging platforms, sometimes tried and true channels may be the best way to advertise services. Monitoring user adoption of new platforms is key to deciding whether they are worthy of investment dollars. For instance, for all the buzz surrounding geo-social services, new reports reveal that the tools’ penetration is slow-growing, and most industries are advised to see how the platform develops before moving ad dollars into foursquare and similar apps.