Commentary

What The Rise of Wearables Means For Marketers

The wearables sector is continuing to expand the IoT connected ecosystem that we will all be a part of in the not-so-distant future. Wearable data will be able to provide a host of new information to cross layer with existing data points. While there has been great progression in how seamless wearable technology has become for the consumer, the marketing industry is still far from leveraging the data into applicable advertising insights. 

Coming off of my wearables panel at this week’s MediaPost IoT Marketing Forum, I’m struck with the potential to have a broader conversation related to the connected world. Wearables are still just a part of the ecosystem, but in the future, everything and everyone will essentially be on the network. To bring a valuable and relevant brand experience for the always-connected consumer on the move, wearables will play a key role.

However, they do not act in a silo. In the same way that no one advertising channel can achieve all brand goals alone, the consumer journey is very much a connected and integrated experience. 

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In the world of wearables, we’ve moved far beyond the wrist. Progressions in the space such as Project Jacquard, Google's new venture to weave touch controls into textiles right on the loom, are a testament to what’s coming. Its recent announcement that Levi’s will be the first brand test study is especially interesting. Together, the companies have created a denim jacket, aimed at urban bikers, a prime example of wearables shifting to include connected clothing. The consumer on the move can now be provided with integrated experiences that don't interrupt their journey. 

Marketers can and should capitalize on such a shift through a number of ways, though currently on a pilot basis. For example, CPG marketers could serve a contextual ad through Spotify when the jacket senses the biker is on the go to direct them to a nearby store. For a one-to-many tactic, tech-enabled LinkNYC can utilize its open API platform, allowing for an unlimited number of consumer engagement options.

As with any new technology application for marketers, scale is at the forefront of our minds. While integrations with individual wearable programs are interesting for pilot programs and testing, the media industry can't truly utilize wearables as a viable data point for media planning and buying.

With this new data point derived from wearables, marketers have a new playground to create contextual and relevant brand interactions. It would be interesting to see a network of wearable data formed to supply data packaged for marketers. Unacast is doing this for the beacon space, operating as an umbrella company for all major players. By developing strategic partnerships to collate the data captured by these signals, Unacast is also delivering a wider opportunity for marketers to understand a varied landscape and act on it. This needs to happen in the wearables sector at scale before the data can be relevant and applicable to marketers. The landscape is simply too fragmented to speak of wearables, in terms of an ad buy like digital networks. 

Marketing is becoming smarter and more contextually-relevant with each new development, and wearables will feed into that loop of connected information. For now, mobile data, beacons, and geo-fencing are our go-to sources for providing content with-in context. Levi’s jacket wearers of the future, keep your eyes open for unique marketing moments made just for you.

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