What Marketers Should Take Away from IO16

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Google’s annual developer conference, IO16, revealed a number of new products and services. At the IO16 keynote, Google revealed the new technologies it’s bringing to market, from VR to AI. What’s in it for marketers? What must marketing technologists take advantage of?


Daydream is Google’s new VR platform, encompassing a hardware standard for manufacturers to build high quality experiences, and supporting external controllers and headsets. Daydream also takes a shot at Facebook, avoiding the need for an external computer to drive the VR experience (thanks in part to the new Android N software).

What should marketers take from Daydream’s announcement?

  • Virtual reality, already a major focus for 2016, got another shot in the arm; we should have an answer as to why we are or aren’t integrating VR into our marketing.
  • At the very least, innovative marketers should be testing these VR platforms out as a consumer, learning their capabilities and limitations.

Home / Assistant

Never mind that the Google Home device looks like an air freshener; Home and its software, Assistant, are supercharged, AI-powered virtual assistants. Home clearly has Amazon Echo and Alexa in its crosshairs. What do these new virtual assistants portend?

Voice search. Lots and lots of voice search. As if we weren’t doing enough already with Siri, Cortana, OK Google, and Alexa, we now add Home / Assistant to the mix.

What should marketers take from Home/Assistant’s announcement?

  • We must ensure our digital properties can be pronounced easily. We may want to buy a cheap Android phone, a cheap iPhone, and an Amazon Echo, then routinely test asking these virtual assistants about our digital properties.
  • We must grow share of mind that people remember to ask their virtual assistants about us; Uber has become synonymous with car sharing in the same way Kleenex is synonymous with tissue paper. We must obtain similar mind share in order to make voice search work for us. Here’s the gold standard test: if your customers don’t talk about your brand to the humans around them using their voices, they probably won’t talk to an AI about it, either.

Allo / Duo

Allo and Duo are two of Google’s messaging apps, adding to the crowded Google messaging space. Allo incorporates AI into messaging in an attempt to remain competitive with Messages, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp. AI-powered search and smart replies are built into the product. Allo also permits us to talk to Google’s search engine as though it were one of our friends, and even include it in our group conversations.

Duo is a revamp of Google Hangouts; whether Google keeps Hangouts in lieu of Duo remains to be seen.

What should marketers take from the Allo / Duo reveal?

  • Schema and markup are vital to our SEO efforts. These AIs rely on well-implemented semantic markup (like denoting what are recipes, movies, video, etc. on our websites) so that the AIs serve up the right goods when users ask for them. Marketers must ensure our websites are marked up with the latest and greatest schema so AIs find us when relevant.
  • AI in search changes the meaning of SEO, because the machines are finding us and proactively inserting our content (as appropriate) into conversations and interactions. Google’s AI attempts to reduce how much we search by searching for us. Think about that. As marketers, we can’t necessarily rely on humans searching for us first.

Android Instant Apps

Android Instant Apps is a massive boon to developers. Users won’t have to install an app on their Android device to try it out; they can simply tap a link and experience a live demo.

What should marketers take from the Android Instant Apps announcement?

  • App developers should be excited at the possibility of greater install rates; users who try an app and like it will install it.
  • App developers who have terrible apps will see their adoption rates plummet; if we’re responsible for marketing an app that’s not best-in-class, we should expect app marketing costs to skyrocket while conversions (installs) nosedive.
  • Google Play serving up a link to test an app is a clear foreshadowing of allowing Instant Apps to be served up by… Google AdWords! (huge surprise) Expect new advertising options to appear when Instant Apps goes live.

Firebase Analytics

Google announced its latest development platform, Firebase, an attempt to provide a unified development environment for Android, iOS, and the mobile web. Part of the IO16 Firebase reveal was a new analytics product, Firebase Analytics, which will eventually supersede Google Analytics Mobile SDK.

At IO16, Google announced that Firebase Analytics would be the best-in-class analytics option for mobile developers to track their apps and mobile properties. Those developers who currently use Google Analytics will be encouraged to switch to Google Tag Manager and then run Firebase Analytics and Google Analytics together.

What should marketers take from the Firebase announcement?

  • The change to a new analytics platform is significant; any marketer currently using Google Analytics without Google Tag Manager should change to Google Tag Manager immediately.
  • Firebase itself is integrated with AdMob, so marketers should expect to see more AdMob inventory become available for advertising as some developers switch to Firebase for their app development environments. Marketers should enroll in ad exchanges and demand-side platforms which support AdMob to gain access to this inventory.


Google revealed many other announcements, but Firebase, Android Instant Apps, Allo/Duo, Home/Assistant, and Daydream are most important to our marketing capabilities. Get skilled up on Google’s new offerings and take advantage of them as you can. As with all digital technologies, early adopters are often disproportionately rewarded, so get in early where you can.

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