With Google announcing plans to launch its first software development kit (SDK) this month for wearable devices, and startups pitching ideas and winning over investors, marketers need to become more aware of how wearable devices will change their role across search engine media -- and become aware of how to capitalize on the data behind the gadgets.
Google Glass, Epiphany Eyeware, and Ringblingz are three among a slew of wearable device makers and products that will change how search marketers do their job. Many of these devices are paired with the consumer's mobile phone. In Ringblingz's case, leaving a smartphone behind in a taxi or a restaurant lights up the pendant, the charm, or the ring or makes it vibrate, alerting the owner that they have left something of value.
Ringblingz wants to build the "largest wearable social database" based on statistics, said Ringblingz cofounder Jeanniey Mullen. "The data might tell us that fifteen-year-old girls most often add Instagram to receive notifications, or the average person is in five Ringblingz networks," she said, noting that initially the devices will speak to digital natives and young adults. "The average teen gets about 144 social notifications daily, but only 12 are important. The vibrations and lights in the pendants and rings are set to specific phone numbers in the person's contact list."
I met up with Mullen at South by Southwest (SXSW) to talk about how her products, which she believes will become available to consumers in stores fall 2014 in Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco, will change search marketing. Pre-orders on the company's Web site begin later this month.
The strategy includes working with brands to demonstrate how a company might sponsor an event or industry, and search marketing and social media campaigns. One might base discounts in a store on the color of the shopper's LED light in the device. The devices can also provide notifications to wearers such as a reminder to take medication, make a phone call, or pick up a child from school. "We're also working on integrating the technology into other apps," Mullen said.
Open the Ringblingz wearable device and you'll find a Bluetooth low-energy sensor that communicates with the phone, and an LED light that offers up to 300 colors based on several patents filed in 2010. There's a vibration feature with or without color. The mobile app gives users control of the settings. Today, the battery -- which lasts four to six months -- dictates the size of the piece.
Azher Ahmed, SVP director of digital operations at DDB Chicago, an Omnicom Group company, suggests being patient. Similar to the early days of search, the platforms are evolving and opportunities to monetize and communicate are limited. He offers other advice as well, such as don't over-invest in any one device or category. "Search marketing is all about finding relevance within an opt-in activity such as search engines," he said. "Treat wearables in the same manner and find ways to enhance the behaviors."
Ahmed said marketers need to think of attributes that attract people to wearables, and extend search strategies to include those that "naturally siphon" the traffic.
The Ringblingz will set back consumers between $40 and $60, but potential smartwatch purchasers are willing to pay a lot more, according to an ABI Research study. Adults want text alerts, call alerts and caller ID as the most attractive features of a product in a wearable watch. The study suggests that consumers willing to spend between $1,000 and $5,000 for a watch also want voice commands and controls. They would pay up to $500 for a smartwatch. The largest group of respondents said they would pay between $50 and $200 for a smartwatch, followed by another group who said they would pay between $200 and $500.