Why Google ZOO’s Creative Director Is Excited About Advertising’s Future

It has never been more exciting to be in advertising than right now, said Lars Bastholm, global creative officer at Google ZOO, Google’s creative think tank of technologists and artists who work with brands and agencies.

Indeed, marketers can use data and technology in fun, unexpected ways, he said this morning at the IAB MIXX conference, in New York City. Bastholm pointed to virtual reality, or the ability to layer digital onto the the real, physical world, as an example. He played a video, titled “Hyper-Reality,” that presented a provocative and kaleidoscopic new vision of the future, where physical and virtual realities have merged and the city is saturated in media.

“It’s important to do stuff that consumers find useful, usable, and delightful to be utopian,” Bastholm said. To that end, Google has opened a software development kit (SDK) for developers to experiment in VR.

Bastholm also talked about how gaming can play a role in advertising. He provided an example that his team worked on with Japanese advertising agency Dentsu to bring awareness to young children about coding. Bastholm said he also is paying close attention to 360 video as a way to people engaged and discover content related to what they are watching. For example, Google Play teamed with Google Maps to map iconic movies to where in the world they took place. Users can learn about the films and use the gyroscope capability in their phones to explore places in 360 degrees. The platform allowed people to also discover related content from Google Play—a win-win for Google and users.

“We had to invent how to embed films into street view,” Bastholm said.

Bastholm said he is also excited about the opportunities in using technology to help consumers complete important tasks. He talked about a prototype being tested by a toothpaste manufacturer in Europe to get people to brush their teeth. The problem, the manufacturer told Google, was that most people don’t actually brush their teeth for two minutes, like they are recommended to. And they don’t bring their phones into the bathroom when they are brushing their teeth because it is a “wet area.”

Google created a device that syncs with a person’s phone and allows them to personalize a two-minute time frame with entertainment and music, or even to have their emails read to them. Although a simple idea, it’s helpful, Bastholm said.

Related, virtual assistants, such as Google’s Home device and Amazon’s Echo, are destined to change people’s pattern of behavior and will big as a marketing tool, Bastholm added.

“Art challenges technology, and technology inspires art,” Bastholm said. “I’ve been force-feeding that to the team at the ZOO. I also tell them to remember that technology changes but people don’t—fundamentally, people really don’t.”

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