What Google Glass, wearable tech means for brands

Despite what many of the outspoken Glass Explorers have to say, wearing Google Glass is not a religious or even addictive experience.

Despite what many of the outspoken Glass Explorers have to say, wearing Google Glass is not a religious or even addictive experience. No one who I can find or imagine wants to sit around all day and read his or her Glass screen. Its strength is in its seamless integration into your activities. It goes with you. You forget you're wearing it. It gives you relevant information about traffic and weather and things near you via Google Now. It takes a picture for you when your hands are full. One day, it will even offer you suggestions based on the things you see and hear.

But will it also be chock-full of ads? I don't think so. Here's why:

As technology has evolved, immediacy has been one of the most prominent indicators of advancement. Once, we had to dig through a catalog to find the right microfiche. Then one day, we could search the library database on a computer. Not long after that, the Internet and Google became our information-finding utilities — utilities that became so essential, we needed to have them with us at all times in our homes and even in our pockets. Throughout these iterations, ways for brands to take advantage of the space in front of consumers' eyes has had a rise and a fall. Many don't recognize the fall, but don't you find you are more irritated by advertising on your phone than on your computer? It's because the phone is a more immediate device. You have it with you because you need information or to communicate quickly, immediately, and you don't want to be interrupted by a banner ad or a preview for next summer's blockbuster.

Google Glass carries greater expectations of immediacy than a phone. It's on your face. Brands seeking ways to develop disruptive advertising are going to be sorely disappointed, as consumers won't be receptive. It's safe to assume that wearable technology is not likely to be the next ad canvas, much in the way that we wouldn't stand for an ad in the middle of a personal phone call. We'll tolerate ads when seeking entertainment, but not when we're trying to get directions.

That doesn't mean there isn't going to be a way for brands to market to their consumers on these devices. The mindset has to change from disrupting to facilitating. Disruption is great for big events and Times Square takeovers, but it's not good for interrupting our modes of information-seeking and communication. Not anymore, if it ever was.

Facilitating experiences is probably the easiest way brands can seek to take advantage of wearable technology. In fact, it's already happening. Mashable and Elle both jumped on the Google Glass bus early, offering tech and fashion updates, respectively, for those who want them. Beyond publishers, brands like Field Trip are adapting their existing utility apps for wearable devices.

Brands that are already looking to enhance consumer experiences, rather than disrupt them, are going to be better positioned to take advantage of wearable technology — but it's never too late to start.

Annie Scott Riley is a Google Glass Explorer and senior social engagement manager at Carmichael Lynch Spong. Follow Annie on Twitter: @AnnieScott

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