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Google Now on Tap pressures brands to make offers more compelling

Google’s Now on Tap feature, which makes mobile commerce more immediate by serving information within the app the consumer is using, gives brands incentive to provide compelling offers that users can download to their mobile wallets while helping Google to remain relevant amid competition in mobile search.

The feature, demonstrated at Google’s I/O developers conference, shares information that is more contextually relevant to a consumer’s needs and interests. Although being user-friendly to Google has always been important, Now on Tap suggests that for businesses to flourish, it is even more essential than ever that they be visible and easy-to-use to the giant Web portal.

“Being present means making essential location data and content available for Google to distribute,” said Adam Dorfman, senior vice president of product and technology at SIM Partners, Chicago.

“Location data includes the business listing information, such as an enterprise’s name, address, and phone number, that makes it possible for Google, and consumers, to find you.”

Dinner meeting
For marketers, the service would increase avenues for connecting with audiences.

“Let’s say I send an email to a friend, asking ‘Do you want to meet for dinner at Frontera Grill tonight?’” Mr. Dorfman said.

“With Google on Tap, Google shares essential information about Frontera Grill, such as the address, phone number, map location, and reviews, based on the context of the email sent. [For instance it might zero in on the keywords Frontera Grill, dinner and tonight], without me or my friend having to leave our email app to find the information we both want,” he said.

Google’s view is that while a mobile phone does wonderful things for the user, it is still not always easy to find a quick piece of information or get something done on the fly while the user is in the middle of something else – such as listening to music, texting friends, or reading email.

Too often, a consumer has to leave what he or she is doing just to look for something elsewhere on a phone.

Now On Tap aims to let the user simply tap and hold the home button for assistance without having to leave what he or she is doing, whether in an app or on a Web site.

If a friend emails the user about seeing the new movie Tomorrowland, he or she can invoke Google Now without leaving an app, to quickly see ratings, watch a trailer, or even buy tickets – then get back to what he or she was doing.

If the user is chatting with a friend about where to get dinner, Google can provide quick information about the place the friend recommends. He or she will also see other apps on a phone, such as OpenTable or Yelp, through which he or she can make a reservation, read reviews or check out the menu.

When the user taps and holds the home button, Google offers options that are a best guess of what might be helpful in the moment. But if the user needs something specific, he or she can also get Google to help by saying “Ok Google” from any screen, and any app.

For example, if someone is listening to Twenty One Pilots on Spotify, he or she can say “Ok Google, who’s the lead singer” and receive an answer right away.

Google recently has introduced a number of new initiatives aimed at staving off challenges from Facebook and other rivals as the search engine strives to remain relevant.

The list of new features includes Brand Lift, which lets marketers measure a campaign’s impact on brand awareness and interest and ad recall, and Google Search page product listing ads tailored towards products and product categories. 

Google is especially interested in figuring out how to handle challenges related to the dropping cost per click rate tied to the migration to mobile from desktop PCs, unfavorable currency-exchange rates and other factors.

Owning moment
Google on Tap seeks to help brands with inventory make sure their local inventory is fed to Google correctly.

Owning the next moment of mobile.

“Enterprises that go beyond being present and own ‘the next moment’ of mobile will win,” Mr. Dorfman said. “Owning the next moment means providing a compelling reason for consumers to do business with you, such as an offer that consumers can download to their mobile wallets. 

“Google on Tap makes the next moment more immediate.”

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York