Mobile Marketer: Brands should move quickly to capitalize on wearables - report

By Michael Barris

Brand marketers need to start experimenting immediately with more personalized advertising models to take advantage of the significant communications opportunities presented by wearables that connect individuals physically to the Web, according to a report from Mindshare and Goldsmiths University of London.

To avoid repeating the mistake of getting left at the starting line by the shift from desktop to mobile, marketers must get in front of the rise of wearables and the Internet of things, according to the report, titled “Shift.”

“We recommend a very hands-on approach,” said Jeff Malmad, managing director and head of mobile and Life+ for Mindshare North America. “It’s important for brand teams to physically experiment with different kinds of wearables to truly realize what’s possible. 

“You need to take a very visual approach to understand what can be deployed and how it looks,” he said. “The fact that you have such a small screen can also make message very challenging, but also unique and clever.

“Start planning and playing now, because wearables and sensors will only grow in the world of connected everything,” he said.

Understanding consumers

The research project aimed to understand the key consumer motivations for wearable technologies and the opportunities they present for brands and advertisers.

Using a combination of consumer device testing, workshops, expert interviews and a survey, the research addressed consumer needs, how wearable technology can fulfill them and what opportunities this provides for brand communication.

Flow, making everyday life smoother or easier, was the most popular need identified with 36 percent of British smartphone users finding this of interest. 

More specifically, 31 percent of respondents were interested in the use of wearables to order goods in advance to save queuing, 38 percent were interested in wearables changing heating or lighting preferences upon entering a room and 29 percent want to use wearables to open car doors, underlining the potential of the devices to make life easier for today’s busy consumer.

Reflection, the use of wearables data to identify ways one can improve his or her life physically or emotionally, was the second most popular need identified with 35 percent of British smartphone users finding this of interest. 

Fitness trackers have improved the lives of 76 percent of current users, according to the research, with 50 percent of smartphone users interested in the prospect of wearables measuring and analyzing sleep patterns.

The research also found that 13 percent of British smartphone users say they are very likely to get at least one wearable device in the next 12 months, meaning 8 million adults or 16 percent of the population will use them by 2016.

The report also identified five key opportunity areas for advertisers looking to take advantage of this growing platform, embracing both advertising and content.

The areas are push notifications, paid search ads, brand utility – services created for the consumer that are operated on the wearable; brand experience – real world experiences powered by wearables; and content personalization – delivery of personalized content on other platforms based on wearables data.

As wearables start to connect individuals physically to the Web, there will be huge communications opportunities for brands in terms of new, more personalized advertising models, brand utility and brand experiences fuelled by wearables, according to the report.

A key challenge for the wearables sector is to convince consumers that wearables are genuine must-haves for the mass market and not just gimmicky, nice-to-haves for gadget heads.

“People use wearables as a way to make their everyday lives smoother and easier,” Mr. Malmad said. “The key takeaway for marketers is that when you extend your brand in this space, do it to help make your consumers’ lives easier by providing utility and relevant information.”

The findings point to how marketing strategy has evolved. The first wave of digital advertising was desktop. The second wave was mobile – moving into apps and optimizing for the mobile Web. 

Adaptive mobility

Now marketers have entered the third wave of digital advertising: adaptive mobility.

“The ability to leverage context, wearables, and location, and have data tie it all together complements and elevates existing programs in a very real and powerful way,” Mr. Malmad said. “Adaptive mobility leverages all this data in real time; the result is that like a master chef we can produce a very enticing meal that our target will consume.”  

Read on Mobile Marketer: