Google Brings Goggles To HTC’s TV Ads

Use Google Goggles to scan bands and art (not clunky codes) to download free stuff in the new HTC Sensation 4G ads, a first-of-its-kind collaboration between Deutsch L.A. and Google. Watch!

HTC ad


If you’re aiming a slick and (so far) well reviewed new Android phone at an audience you’re calling “cultural curators,” you probably want to bring some extras to your ad campaign. Gratuitous use of invasive QR codes isn’t going to cut it.

So Deutsch L.A. walked that fine line between usability and experience with the help of Google Goggles, creating a campaign that includes the first TV spot enhanced with the image recognition technology.

To support the June 15 debut of the HTC Sensation 4G, Deutsch launched a campaign that includes print, outdoor, and TV spots that allow viewers to download free stuff by scanning parts of the ads with Goggles. The agency’s creative and media teams worked with media partners including FunnyorDie and IFC to procure original content like movie previews, new episodes of existing series, artwork, songs, and videos. So whether or not viewers have Goggles on, they’ll still see pretty entertaining ads (not dancing QR codes).

One outdoor ad, for example, reads, “You want a phone that helps you discover openers before they become headliners,” and unlocks a song from indie rock group Hooray For Earth when Goggles users scan part of the picture. The TV spot offers viewers (who scan when prompted near the end of the spot) a download of a street art mural and a track and video from precocious Internet singer Maria Aragon, and FunnyorDie created a new episode of its series High Five for the campaign.


“We’re not just piling more product messaging on the consumer but giving them access to things they’re interested in,” says Jon Maron HTC’s VP Marketing, Americas. “The campaign is backed with over 60 unique pieces of content that can be unlocked and shared by consumers on Twitter or Facebook.”

The biggest challenge and debate in the creation of the campaign, says Kyle Acquistapace, partner, director of media and data strategy at Deutsch L.A., centered on the technology that would deliver the layered content experience. QR codes? Too bulky, too distracting. “Ads with QR codes in them are about QR codes,” says Acquistapace.”We wanted to have that functionality but didn’t want it to define the ad, we didn’t want the cue of the code.”

Goggles emerged as the best solution; it allowed viewers to seamlessly access another layer of content beyond the ad, and was accessible to everyone with a smartphone.

What Google Goggles offers, essentially, is a simple visual search. Mobile users with the app can point their phones at something–things like books, logos, and products work best–take a picture and be taken directly to search results or other web content for more information on that item. The app dispenses with the need for scanning codes or entering information and lends itself to marketing uses.

But while Goggles has been used in print ads, there is no off-the-shelf solution for using the app in ad campaigns and having it return the desired content, which meant the agency and the Goggles development team worked together to execute the project.

The campaign’s main tech challenges facing Google Goggles were “working with the agency to design images that are visually distinct and work well with our recognition engines (and) creating a compelling back end experience that was ‘magical’ end-to-end,” says product manager Shailesh Nalawadi. He says the HTC campaign is part of broader marketing experiment that Google started last year.


Google also said recently that it would expand the scope of the technology with its new voice and visual search for the desktop. And Nalawadi says the company is working to expand Goggles’ capabilities. “You’ll see us try to expand the kinds of objects we can recognize and also try to put a camera, or visual search icon in more places across Google so that users can search the web with pictures more easily. Our announcement this week about bringing visual search to the desktop web is one example of this effort.”

For HTC and Deutsch, the app offered a user-friendly way for a media-savvy audience to delve into hidden layers of content. “What bubbled up in our research was that the people who would like this phone were the kind of people who want to discover what’s new out there and share it,” Acquistapace says. “So in terms of creative and media strategies, everything pointed to the idea of unlocking content, and creating a campaign that would allow people to do that, not just talk about doing it.”

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About the author

Teressa Iezzi is the editor of Co.Create. She was previously the editor of Advertising Age’s Creativity, covering all things creative in the brand world