Digital marketing has evolved rapidly. While the headlines are consumed with social media, mobile advertising, and video content, to name but a few, there is a greater force lurking that is set to change the landscape as we know it. This force is the “Internet of Things” and it is conducive to the world we are now living in. Did you know that there are already twice as many “things” connected on the Internet than people? And by 2020, this is set to rise to 50 billion connected devices, according to Cisco.
With an enormous effort underway by a number of companies, notably Google, to embed identifying chips and scanable codes into as many devices as possible that are connected to our homes, it is not a question of if, but how the future of digital marketing will be transformed forever by this connectivity and sea of data.
So how will the Internet of Things impact digital marketers over the forthcoming year and where will we see the biggest changes?
ClickZ asked a number of agency leaders their thoughts. Here’s what they said:
Amy Lanigan, vice president, Client Strategy, Fluid
The best digital marketers and agencies will be thinking first and foremost about how connected devices will, or could, impact consumers. Marketing done well through the Internet of Things will be three things: seamless, able to eliminate friction, and be of overt value to the consumer.
Real-world behaviors will become the new click-stream, purchase path, cookie, and search term. Nest knows the temperature of our living rooms. IBM Watson gets asked questions once reserved for friends, sales associates, or doctors. Cold temperatures could trigger our cars to start, down coats to show in shopping experiences, hot cocoa to be made, snooze buttons to be pressed, and movies to queue up on our SmartTV’s. This is about full stories rather than mere snippets. We’ll all have to adapt accordingly.
The biggest changes we’ll see?
• Opting-in will expand beyond CRM. The Internet of Things involves intimate information. Connected devices make the way our data is used on us more important and obvious. Consumers’ control of, or input into, their data will be important.
• Marketing will need new models. It will become more of an exchange of equals, replacing the legacy model of brands preying on consumers. Brands get data, and consumers will get a warm car in the morning.
• Ecommerce will become dial tone. Digital commerce will become pervasive and ever present. Every interaction will be a potential effortless and invisible transaction. Great marketing will be about superb content, emotional connections — and less hindered by device or platform constraints.
Overall, the Internet of Things is going to challenge us as marketers and shift power to consumers. It will arm us with immense amounts of rich, interesting data that lives beyond the confines of an Excel spreadsheet. All of these things are great things.
Jeremy Lockhorn, vice president, Emerging Media, Razorfish
We are experiencing the early stages of the post-PC era, in which connected devices and the Internet of Things wield tremendous power to both disrupt and enhance our daily digital lives.
While most marketers and agencies have embraced the basics of mobility, we (the digital marketing industry) are only scratching the surface of what is possible. There is another revolution lurking on the horizon, driven by new mobile form factors, wearable computing devices, and the inevitable fact that anything that can be connected will be connected.
Privacy-friendly personalization and (perhaps more importantly) predictive marketing and service will become the baseline consumer expectation. To put it more simply — technological advances have demonstrated a tendency to move from novelty to expectation almost overnight. What is a magical experience today becomes the baseline routine tomorrow. Brands must be nimble, empowering their customers and potential customers with ever-evolving digital solutions.
Rebecca Nadilo, director, Digital Strategy, BBDO
As connected devices gain mainstream adoption in 2014 by moving from flashy features to those with real value for the consumer, digital marketers will have another highly targeted and personal platform to push out their message. First, digital marketers will need to determine whether they can truly provide brand utility on these platforms before diving in. And those that do will need to determine how they can best utilize all the additional data points collected to target their audience — moving from big data to smart data.
Itai Asseo, vice president, group creative architect, DigitasLBi
The so-called “Internet of Things” is abuzz almost anywhere you look these days, and with the help of this year’s Consumer Electrics Show, it is now a mainstream conversation topic. This poses many questions for marketers, including how to reach your consumers on a myriad of new devices, and what role a brand can play on wearable technology or in a connected home. Answers are starting to emerge from some of the recent tech blog headlines. With acquisitions by Google of Nest and DeepMind, or IBM’s doubling down on Watson’s artificial intelligence development, the ever-expanding connected consumer world is a gold mine for data and insight. Users are increasingly more receptive to the idea of sharing certain information about their viewing or browsing habits, and their social-network interests. In return, they gain access to powerful, free tools like Mint and Google Maps.
The Internet of Things is the final frontier in connecting users’ entire physical life to the digital world. From information about their driving habits to what they eat and how much they exercise, the promise of the Internet of Things is to get a much deeper understanding of your brand’s consumer, and insights into targeting them to a much finer degree. A lot of the action is going to happen behind the scenes, but the challenge for brands and marketers will be to remain relevant — not only in the digital world, but in the physical one as well.
Jordan Holberg, director of Technology, TBWAChiatDay New York
The biggest change will be in the way we intake and analyze the mountains of data generated by the connected devices and Internet of Things. More number crunching, more people to interpret the data, and better interfaces to report and take action. Just like social has spawned its own sub-industry of metrics, analytics, and management, so too must the connected world. The 360-degree view of a customer has quickly become a McTwist of actions and insights. It’ll take equally impressive minds, energy, and nimble maneuvering to digest.
Andy Jacobs, executive vice president, global chief technology officer, MRM
More and more in the future (and perhaps not too far off), marketers will need to become even more channel/device agnostic when constructing their communication strategies. I think there will be a more prevalent use of wearable devices and connected appliances. These devices will further disrupt the current landscape of “connected devices” extending this beyond the desktop/phablet usage we are seeing today. The challenge will be how to intelligently incorporate these new devices into marketing strategies, leveraging their unique characteristics, and at the same time taking into account the unique user experience.
Rich Guest, U.S. president, Tribal Worldwide
I like to think that we are moving toward a “connected life” — an amalgam of the connected home, wearable devices, and the quantified self — but that this “connected life,” at least for the average American consumer, is still more than a year away.
Before the “connected life” moves mainstream, wearables will have to become more attractive if not fashionable (e.g. a Jawbone Up designed by Kate Spade) and the consumer electronics industry will have to define a real consumer value proposition for the connected home. But, that is all coming. And, once it does the implications to marketers and agencies will be enormous.
In the meantime, the industry should be working to understand how brands can responsibly leverage all of the data points that these products will create in order to truly deliver one-to-one marketing that is relevant and effective but not creepy.
Ann Mack, director of trendspotting, JWT
As the Internet of Things becomes more of a reality, brands will find many new and novel ways to make once-dumb objects intelligent, potentially attracting new cohorts in the process.
This development raises a lot of new questions and in turn, opens up a lot of new opportunities. Where can technology be embedded and how can it add new appeal to a basic product or experience? How can it help make things easier, safer, more efficient, more cost-effective, or simply more fun for customers?
But just because you can make anything “smart” doesn’t mean it’s worth doing. The technology should truly enhance the user experience, not confuse or complicate it, and go well beyond a gimmick or novelty that the consumer may enjoy testing out once or twice.
The Internet of Things will also present brands and marketers with new platforms for communicating with their customers — the “fourth screen” on a car, the mobile app that syncs with intelligent objects, etc. This will become the next frontier for reaching consumers on the go. Marketers can push context-sensitive messaging and utility, accounting for the device’s function and location in consumers’ lives.
John Patroulis, chief creative officer, BBH New York
The formula for success in an increasingly connected landscape isn’t really all that complicated: the more that platforms, devices, and life in general are connected, the higher the potential not just for delight but also for confusion and frustration.
The winners will be those that respond in simple, creative, and more rewarding ways. Only the simplest, most human ideas travel well, and that’s as true between platforms as it is between cultures. The increasingly rare companies and agencies that find those simple human truths and are able to bring them to life in astonishingly creative ways will thrive because creativity rewards the viewer and user — from utility to entertainment to emotional connection.