Google MeatView and FatWords: Two brand-new tools from Google Labs

by Andreas on April 1, 2010

When it comes to bringing innovative products to market, Google is unstoppable. In Google Labs there now are two new tools available that are in beta-test mode currently. They are focused on the fast food market: Google MeatView and Google FatWords.

Google has already lined up an impressive number of marketing partners for both of these programs – among them most leading fast food chains as well as various smaller players. These tools are designed to address the following challenges:

  • Improve the trust level of the fast food industry
  • Open up the immense marketing potential of fast food consumers

Because of current market stability overseas, Google has already pioneered these services in Europe, especially Germany, and will be rolling them out in the US over the next weeks. Our German staff (all devout meat eaters) had the opportunity to test both services in great detail.

Google MeatView

Even Google understands that meat doesn’t just equal meat. Especially some of the most recent food industry scandals have made the strategists in Mountain View listen up and take these concerns very seriously.

Google is using MeatView to offer an insight into stables and pastures. In the near future, the purchaser of a hamburger or steak will have access to a so-called QR-code stamped right on the packaging material. With this code you will be able to determine the source of the cut. And vice versa, you will be able to go online and select a specific animal with the ability to drill down to more detailed information, i.e. date of birth, current weight, etc.

Here is the interface already available to customers in Germany and most parts of Europe:


Particularly useful are the various data points and options here. For example, you can search for “happy cows” or specifically exclude low quality cuts. At this point there is a definite lack of organic meat selections, but Mountain View indicated that this feature will be rolled out in the next release.

There might be issues that Google will face from an unexpected source: Data privacy advocates are having a heyday with these new services. Ralph Nader, consumer advocate, has already complained about the inadequate protection of privacy for farm animals. “Even a cow has the right to an anonymous life. It just isn’t right to track meat products back all the way to the animals in the stables. Again, Google’s infatuation with data collection is overreaching the bounds of privacy.”

The courts will have to make a decision quickly, especially since data protection for animals is still a grey zone. We were able to interview a farm owner who is participating in the program. His feelings were very clear: “All of this data protection business is really going too far. Pretty soon even the crop that I’m growing will have a right to privacy”

Google FatWords

fatwords-logoAs the fast food industry is struggling with its current image, Google believes it can improve things taking advantage of a brand new advertising space that has been ignored up to now.

Google has initiated an ad program called Google FatWords – this is in beta as well. Select clients can access it directly via the AdWords interface. By using a unique technology ads can be branded directly onto a hamburger bun without a negative impact on the taste.

What’s even more impressive is that these ads are context-sensitive, i.e. a family having Sunday dinner would see something completely different than an individual teenager ordering a fast-food treat on the way to the roller skating rink.
Here is an example from the German beta market:


At this point these ad messages are limited to hamburgers. So, if you go to your favorite fast good chain and order a salad or a breakfast treat you will be disappointed. No ads will be available yet. But that is about to change: The Google FatWords team is working overtime on expanding the ad vehicles. Obviously this isn’t easy as one of the team members confided: “Just try to laser an ad into your scrambled egg product. Believe me, it ain’t gonna happen.”

A lot of research and development will be needed here, but in Google’s eyes that’s justified because of the attractiveness of the potential target market.

Our Take Away

Google is entering a brand new marketing ecosystem with MeatView and FatView. We think these services look extremely promising although a lot of details need to be worked out before they can are ready for the broader public.

At the end of the day, the consumer has to understand the ramifications of too much information with the MeatView service. After all, do you really want to know where and how the cow was raised that is now on the plate in front of you? One of the side effects of MeatView could be decrease of meat consumption, but only time will tell. FatWords is definitely an interesting tool. And once the hiccups have been ironed out it will represent yet another avenue for advertisers to tie together the online and the offline worlds.

Andreas Mueller is the President/Founder of Bloofusion.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Dana Todd April 1, 2010 at 5:47 pm

Awesome…I needed a good laugh today. Very creative, Andreas!

Robyn McIntyre April 1, 2010 at 8:58 pm

Very nice, Andreas! Love Google with the burger in it.

John Squire April 2, 2010 at 4:31 pm

I can’t wait to see the Google View of exactly where my steak came from on that cow…or for that matter the part they make the hamburger out of. I’m thinking the GoogleSausageView will probably be too revealing.

Whitney72 April 3, 2010 at 3:46 am

Apparently Googles loss in market share came at the expense of its new Google Labs project

Andrew Arenson May 10, 2010 at 8:14 pm

First, good article, this material has a lot of food for thought.Google is really cooking up great ideas to feed this market niche. I’ll eventually get beyond the bovine privacy issues, but will it pass mustard with the vegitarians?

Andreas May 10, 2010 at 9:20 pm

Agreed. I don’t think Google will be vying for the Santa Cruzes of the world to launch these a-mooooo-sing products. Then again, if they prove to be cow-st effective and render some finger-lickin’ ROI, there might be a change of heart.

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