Apple Watch: Tracking Customers with Digital Ads | Guest Post

Apple Watch as iBeacon

The much-anticipated Apple Watch is set for an early 2015 (sometime in March) release date. Now, we are all aware of its health-monitoring features but many mobile marketers believe that its real potentials lie elsewhere. The smart watch from Apple is actually good at putting digital ads on your potential customers’ wrists, helping you to better reach your target audience(s) or at least that’s what The Wall Street Journal says.

It all began in the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas when mobile-marketing company TapSense released their Apple Watch ad-buying service. It showed how businesses can deliver targeted ads to their potential customers, using this smart wearable device. It excited many marketers with its abilities like detecting customers approaching or walking past a store and then sending an ad directly to their wrists. However, there are likely to be certain issues about it as many fear that it might risk alienating those customers.

Besides, Apple didn’t make any comment regarding this or how advertisers can leverage on iWatch to reach out to their target audiences. But there is no denying that Apple Watch offers some potential for advertisers and to explore them, we need to take a look at some of its technologies and features.

Track Users Via BLE Technology

Apple Watch will be able to track its users via Bluetooth signals as they walk around.” – Tim Cook

Apple’s CEO confirmed this in an interview given to Bloomberg sometime in September, last year. This is something a lot of Apple observers have been suspecting for long. But after the CEO publicly accepted this last year, a lot of speculations have been going on.

This wearable device from Apple use Bluetooth low energy or BLE technology and wearers, therefore, can be tracked through Bluetooth signals coming from stores, shopping malls and other real-world locations. To understand this, let’s have a closer look at the technology.

It features Bluetooth 4.0, a localized wireless signal system with the help of which one can receive or transmit data from any nearby device. Bluetooth low energy, which is the signal released by beacons, is significant for two reasons:

  1. Firstly for transmitting radio waves and unlike Wi-Fi or mobile signals, these waves can penetrate physical barriers like walls.
  2. Secondly, the battery consumption of BLE is negligible in comparison to the classic Bluetooth.

Apple Watch use BLE technology, which means the device will scan for such signals and wake up relevant apps when it comes within range of a beacon. Now, this is the opportunity marketers want to leverage upon.

Wearers will be tracked via BLE signals and when they are within the range users will receive alerts from nearby businesses. For example, if you are near a Michael Kors store, an iOS app on your iWatch may suggest you to check out their latest collections.

This indeed creates hyper-localized advertising opportunities for marketers, which is too good to overlook. However, Apple Watch’s tracking mechanism is likely to be similar to mechanism used in iPhones, which is little-understood by most of us.

iBeacons to Send Location-Based Offers

Beacon technology changed the way retailers interacted with shoppers. It allows retailers collect consumer data like never before and trigger customer’s smartphone apps with location-based features such as store maps, targeted coupons, and hands-free payments to lure them to their stores.

Apple Watch is integrated with iBeacon technology that will allow the device to constantly scan for Bluetooth devices in nearby locations. As the device identifies a beacon, it will wake up relevant apps on the wearers’ watch, even if it’s closed and not running in the background, to send relevant data and ads including location-specific ads.

Consider the example of Michael Kors cited previously. The app will not only send data about their latest collections, but also about special discounts and offers currently running on the particular store.

Marsh Supermarkets, mid-western grocery chain is already preparing to integrate its in-store networks of iBeacons with Apple Watch. The company is working with inMarket to roll out its system before the launch of iWatch. The plan is to fully integrate Marsh’s loyalty program with this wearable device in order to quick-hit promotions and ads. It will again open up new opportunities for marketers to reach out to their potential customers and engage them for retention purposes.

Apple Pay works on iWatch

Apple has already announced that Apple Pay, its NFC mobile wallet service, will work on iWatch. Users can pay at checkout with a simple, quick swipe. This means, from giving details of stores (like store map) and products and offering coupons to making payments at checkouts, Apple Watch can play a great role in providing seamless shopping experience to buyers. Better yet, they are all available with a mere glance at your wrist; there is no need to take out your handheld devices.

However, to tap such huge potentials small businesses need to have proper setups to accept this form of e-payment.

This combination of Bluetooth, iBeacon and NFC is what makes Apple Watch special and innovative. The same wireless transmitting system is also found in iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Though previous Apple devices were trackable via iBeacons, it was only possible if the user had their Bluetooth switched on. Besides, all the iBeacon could do (if it detected a device) was sent a signal to alert the user like the Michael Kors example (product information or offers and discounts). However, there was no guarantee that there would be a conversion (sale) attributed to the system.

By combining Bluetooth, iBeacon and NFC, Apple took a step towards closing the loop. An Apple Watch wearer can now receive a signal from a beacon to trigger an app and send relevant data and if the user is motivated enough, he/she can complete the purchase using Apple Pay.

On a Final Note

These technologies, combined together, can provide limitless scopes for marketers. Besides, they will help in generating a ton of consumer data and help marketers analyze their efforts such as which types of offers and promotions work best and how successful the tracking is.

On the downside, Apple has hardly mentioned any detail about ads, even though the iWatch’s SDK is out. A point to note: Apple already has iAd, its own advertising platform. Many are therefore assuming if the tech giant would make ads on Apple Watch exclusive to their iAd platform.

However, these are mostly assumptions as there is no official confirmation available about Apple Watch ad integration and we are just making some educated guesses.

Guest Author Bio

Jaykishan Panchal is a content marketer at MoveoApps, an apple watch app development company. He enjoys writing about Technology, marketing & industry trends. He is tech enthusiast and love to explore new stuff. You can follow him on Twitter @jaypanchal8.

6 Responses to “Apple Watch: Tracking Customers with Digital Ads | Guest Post”

  1. Wojtek Borowicz

    “Apple Watch use BLE technology, which means the device will scan for such signals and wake up relevant apps when it comes within range of a beacon. Now, this is the opportunity marketers want to leverage upon.”

    No it won’t, at least not initially. WatchKit does not support monitoring and ranging for beacons. So while Apple Watch will still be able to display beacon-triggered notifications and content, it’s still the iPhone that has to ‘find’ the beacons first.

    Reply
  2. Great post. Thanks for sharing. And I totally agree with what you said. Beacons have changed the way retailers interacted with shoppers. It allows retailers to collect consumer data like never before and trigger customer’s smartphone apps with location-based features such as store maps, targeted coupons, and hands-free payments to lure them to their stores. This potential opens doors to a whole new orld of opportunities with Apple Watch. When the device identifies a beacon, it will wake up relevant apps on the wearers’ watch and send relevant data and ads including location-specific ads, thus allowing brands to reach out to their potential customers and engage them for retention purposes. Moreover with more than $138M expected to flow into retail via beacons this year, it is critical that retailers experiment with new beacon UX in their efforts to convert occasional consumers or shoppers to year-round loyal consumers. We’ve discussed 3 beacon UX strategies that brands brands can benefit from here:
    http://blog.mobstac.com/2015/01/3-beacon-ux-strategies-that-brands-will-benefit-from/

    Reply

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