While Google’s newly introduced Buzz has been deemed a head-on competitor with Twitter and Facebook, I’m left wondering about ulterior motives- mainly how the search giant can leverage its new “social network” into subtly gaining a mobile advertising upper hand.
In its demonstration of Buzz on Tuesday’s unveiling, Google showcased so-called conversation “balloons” appearing on a smartphone’s Google Maps screen. This location-based “buzz” lets a user’s followers know where they are and what they’re doing at all times, integrated heavily with Google maps. Imagine, if you will, an ad for a restaurant or a small boutique shop also popping up somewhere, either in the balloon or on the Maps screen itself, or perhaps a survey request from a nearby coffee shop, with the promise of a 10 percent discount on a latte if you fill in the form.
These tactics are likely what Google is laying the ground work for, and it’s a smart move if you think about it. Let’s not forget that Google is secretly trying to forgo carriers’ lock on subscriber location-data, and has even filed a patent for a method they’ve devised which would allow them to “sniff” data packets sent to and from a user’s device to determine location. The only way to do so in large scale is to offer a plethora of location-based services that users actually want, which Google does very well. Buzz is yet another one of those services, with a heavy emphasis on location.
The more users Google can accumulate using its myriad of free services, the more data packets Google can “sniff” to determine location information. That location information will be invaluable to Google’s future plans for mobile advertising. A solid lock on location data on large scale is the single largest roadblock facing the mobile advertising industry at the moment, and Google is obviously stopping at nothing to be the first to lock it down.
Google has been unsuccessful at cornering the social uprising we’re seeing today, and has found that dominating mobile advertising like it has with Online ads isn’t going to be nearly as easy. With Buzz, the company obviously hopes it will help them grow in both segments, though it may be a case of too little, too late. In the end, Buzz is much more than a social network wrapped in Google services, it’s yet another tool in Google’s quest for mobile advertising glory- but will it work?