Whenever new technology trends start to take off, marketers are the first to look for ways to leverage them into marketing channels. Wearables are the latest booming trend, exemplified by Fitbit, Apple iWatch, and many others. Our never-ending thirst to find new ways to be in front of consumers may be blinding us from the real opportunity in technology trends like wearable devices.
Wearables are not standalone devices. Their power lies in their connection to a mobile phone. Your mobile device has become your central computing system, a digital Doppelgänger. Wearable devices are just simple extensions that leverage key features based on the intended use. It’s not the wearable device itself that makes it a marketing opportunity, it’s what people do with it.
A mobile device becomes an online representation of the person — a virtual persona — giving marketers an incredible amount of data on almost every aspect of one’s personal and business life.
Look at how some brands are engaging in consumers’ lives. Recently, Under Armour acquired MyFitnessPal for $475 million, as well as the Endomondo European fitness app. They are also starting to produce branded devices for measuring heart rate and other physical attributes. What more personal way to engage consumers with the brand and be able to have deep personal knowledge of their lives? Putting ads in front of these users was the last reason for this acquisition.
Yes, mobile devices can serve ads, but they also give great insight into a user’s lifestyle. By using geofencing around competitive ski areas, the Montana Office of Tourism targeted users who were clearly skiers. This simple targeting based on the user’s device location drove an incremental lift of 4,752 visitors to the state, as well as an estimated $6.9 million in spending by out-of-state visitors.
As brands and marketers, we need to stop worrying about pushing ads in front of our target audience, and instead use these digital personas to better understand them. This will help brands deliver relevant experiences and connect them to people’s lives. Wearables are not an opportunity for eyeballs, but an important part of a consumer’s persona.