Google is coming to a city near you. I know what you’re thinking — “they’re already in my city, and just about every city in America,” but that’s not the point I’m making. Google is putting some of its best and brightest researchers in a van, and they’re headed your way. All in the name of making Google’s products (those that, as you rightly pointed out, are already in your city) all the better. It’s all part of the Internet giant’s latest attempt to better understand how Americans are actually using its products and services, and it sounds a bit like the best work-related road trip ever. So if you see a white van with Google’s logo on it, you might want to say hello.
“We are trying to understand the whole end-to-end experience, which is why we are trying to get out to more locations and see more people so we can gather more context,” Google researcher Laura Granka said in an interview with the Associated Press. For six weeks, a team from the Silicon Valley-based firm will be traveling across the country to get feedback, straight from their users’ mouths. Sure, they could do it via online surveys or all their complex tracking technology, but for this endeavor, Google is going old school. It’s market research with a convenient side of marketing.
The Google van will begin its journey in New York, and will make stops in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, from March 14 to 18; Clemson, South Carolina, from March 21 to 22; Atlanta from March 23 to 25; Boulder, Colorado, from April 4 to 8; Salt Lake City from April 11 to 15; Reno, Nevada, from April 18 to 20; and South Lake Tahoe, California from April 21 to 22.
Depending on the success of this maiden voyage, Google may send another team out again in the future, and perhaps even send a team overseas to see how international audiences are responding to the company’s innovations.
So if you happen to come across the Google van, be prepared to answer questions about how you use various Google services, how you feel about the whole Google experience, and, if you own a Google smartphone, how your device is treating you. And as payment (in addition to bragging rights, of course), you’ll “probably receive a Google gift card and a T-shirt,” PCMag reports. You may be in Google’s company for 15 minutes, or it may take over an hour, but just know that you’re doing a good thing — making Google better for all its billions of users around the world.