Mobile Marketing Association – Brand and Agency Briefing

Having attended the Mobile Marketing Association meeting at the Bloomberg offices on the 1st November 2011, I thought I would highlight some of the technical advances that were presented by Google – many of which are available in beta.

Device applications vs browser

There is no doubt that Google are putting a lot of effort into creating easy-to-use, intelligent user interfaces that work in the browser rather than developing separate applications.  Based on the results of the Google tools and other browser applications I have seen, the need to go to the expense of writing full blown device applications for business use is diminishing.

Web 2.0 has definitely changed expectations for desktop browser based applications and with the power of mobile devices and increased functionality on mobile browsers, the same level of functionality is now possible.

Mobile enhancements from Google

Google home page and local services

When you go to the Google home page to begin a search on a mobile device you can now see a selection local interests such as restaurants, coffee shops, cash points, shops etc.  Obviously when you have selected the service you require, the results will be determined by your location.

It was explained that this is the beginning of businesses being able to use Google to offer discounts for people nearby. You can see how this could be very effective and attractive for businesses; the ability to grow this in the future has to be immense.

The interface works in a very intuitive way so when you have selected your type of service, a map of your area comes up with a list of services below.  As you select a service that you are interested in, this is highlighted on the map.  It is very quick and smooth to use, even over 3G.


Various ways of interacting with a phone were demonstrated and although I personally would rather type, you can see that voice will become a normal way of interacting with a mobile for many people, especially as youngsters get introduced to devices being driven by voice rather than hand.  The technology has improved so much in order to be able to identify different dialects and is pretty much infallible if used sensibly.  One great benefit of this technology is that it takes care of the spelling for you. So if you are unsure or not so strong on spelling, it can make life much easier!  Search was shown using natural language in a similar way to the 4S demos you see on the TV.


This is one area I was really impressed with as it has moved on so much from where it began.

Various elements were demonstrated such as:

  • Translate a page from any language to another – OK so this has been possible for a while
  • Speak in any language and get a written and spoken translation in a language of your choice
  • When you have translated an answer, get the device to speak it for you in the local dialect

It was pretty obvious this was a powerful tool that could only get better and make different language barriers a thing of the past.

NFC (Near Field Communication)

There are still very few devices in Europe that support NFC unlike in Asia, but software and uses for it are coming out all the time.  The typical use of NFC that has been marketed a lot, is for paying using your mobile like a credit card, but Google are also planning on using the technology for sharing data and information between devices as well as picking up offline advertising. A demonstration showed touching two phones together to pass over links to video content and suddenly both phones were playing the same video.  I’m not sure this was a great example, but it was a good exercise to make people appreciate that NFC has much more scope than purely making payments.

Google Wallet has now been released in the US and the functionality goes beyond payments as Google see this as a way of keeping track of coupons and discounts as well as businesses making offers whilst in store. So as an example, when you go to pay, it will identify any eligible coupons and offers automatically and provide the information to get the discounted cost.  It’s a neat idea and one that will be replicated no doubt by other NFC offerings.

Visual capture, NFC and QR Codes

QR codes are the current way of connecting the offline world to online by capturing a barcode-like symbol.  Google have been playing with visual search using pictures for a while now, but they demonstrated just taking a picture of an ad and directing you straight to a URL which looked like a neat concept.  They also suggested that NFC could be used in magazine ads so that by simply touching your phone on the ad, you are taken to a URL such as an application or product page.

A debate ensued as to whether this was the end of QR codes, but a lot of this technology is a long way off and there is probably a case for all being used in the future.  All agreed that QR readers need to be available by default rather than having to download applications so that the uptake is better.