Welcome to a Wearable World

Do you remember when everyone declared “This is the year of mobile” and it never really happened? The biggest fault was that the mobile delivery systems weren’t ‘toned’ enough to really make that big of an impact in what is already a pretty saturated display market, and the technology wasn’t accepted widely enough to really change user behavior. It was somewhat intrusive and relied on consumers actively taking the device out of their pocket or purse to engage.

This, however, is all about to change rather dynamically.

Primarily, I think that it’s time we take a good long look at how we actually define ‘mobile’ and ‘mobility’. The definition is about to change. This is largely in part due to Google’s announcement of the ‘Android Wear ecosystem and the upcoming launch of the rumored iWear ecosystem. Wearable technology is going to completely change the ‘mobile’ universe and it will serve to prop up other media.

Let me explain:

Wearable tech is still in its infancy; early adopters have already jumped on a few bandwagons and have invested in a few small, bright and forward thinking wearable startups like Pebble while Motorola, LG, Sony, Apple, Nike, even Fossil are getting ready to jump on the biggest technology trend since the iPod. The most important feature to this upcoming technology is that it will augment how people interact with each other, their digital universe, and the world around them in ways we have not really seen before. This will also allow marketers and agencies to really dive head first into new ways of creating conversations with consumers.

The core to this technology is that everything you want to do on your phone, you can now basically do on your wrist but with many more fantastic and mind boggling features. These wearable devices are going to be packed full of sensors that will track distance, exercise, heart rate among others that would have a fitness-specific purpose. Specific sensors developed for Apple will be able to detect blood sugar levels without having to draw blood, and will actually be able to accurately calculate caloric intake based on similar sensor use. This is some Star Trek type stuff we’re talking about here, and it’s rumored to be released in June this year. They will also feature things like Bluetooth, Near Field Communication (NFC) and multiple other wireless communication technologies. Certain devices will have an ‘always listening’ feature that you can control with your voice.

I know you all are asking, how does this really affect our ability to deliver messages to customers? This technology will enable us to target consumers on an even deeper level than ever before.

Currently, the most popular applications for mobile devices (games, Facebook, Twitter, and banking apps) all have access to multiple sensors and options within the device you own. Basically it can access signal data to track location, media usage, lifestyle, etc. These metrics, with users’ permission, are all fed back to our partners and then leveraged to allow us to target consumers on a deeper level.

Your new iWatch, or Moto360 will have access to the exact same applications and sensors that your phone would have but, in this new ecosystem, it will include those newly developed health sensors as well as a plethora of other cool applications like being able to tell you that you’re getting sick before you even feel it. Perhaps the largest opportunity lies in the ability for consumers and brands to open a discussion based on incredibly specific targeting data and physical interaction. For those in the Digital world, imagine the creation of a real ‘physical pixel’ that is based on how you actually feel and the products you touch.

While wearing new iWatch, or a Moto360, I have Facebook, or Google+ on my phone which will send notifications to me. I want to be fit, so I have applications that will track my sleep patterns, activity level, and caloric intake. I have news feeds that will dynamically send news stories I might be interested in based on my Flipboard/Facebook account etc. All great new and exciting stuff!

Based on my actual, physical lifestyle these applications can really dig down and target to rather specific demographic and psychographic data. I might not be the perfect candidate for a QSR ad but I’d be the perfect person to reach for Fit4Life or Fitness products.

Imagine this scenario:

I’m at the grocery store and I’m reaching for a bag of a certain frozen food. The watch picks up the signal of an NFC chip that is attached to the shelf space. Suddenly, my watch vibrates. I look down to see an offer of a discount coupon for the product, or a perhaps because I’m an active person, it’s a display ad summarizing the product’s health benefits. This wearable technology promises to open up a new world for reaching and engaging the right consumers. Advertisers could enable for real physical interactions with brands and, because the consumer opted to engage with a product, we could theoretically target based on that engagement, thereby opening up a dialogue based on their immediate, physical action and their future behaviour.

Wearable technology has the additional potential to enable customers to further engage in appointment TV viewing. It could provide a better integrated and personalized second screen experience while adding a layer of measurement data from the “always listening” feature.

Either way, there will be several ways in which advertisers can capitalize on this new, emerging technology. It’s poised to deliver all the things that ‘mobile’ was supposed to and so much more.