At the time of this writing, Apple is one week removed from taking the stage at the Flint Center to introduce a bevy of new products and services during their annual iPhone event. The newly announced iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are big news, representing major advances in the product line. Those products will be out for purchase on the 19th of the month.
New phones mean new customers, and new marketing opportunities for businesses. But the bigger opportunity may be reserved for the other product Apple announced: namely, the iWatch. Slated to be released early 2015, it is a brand new platform open to developers. The form factor offers a whole new set of challenges for app developers and marketers. The opportunity is not just from tech companies, but for mainstream companies seeking entry into a broader market.
Marketing Through Apps
It used to be that mass marketing was done via television. It was a different kind of marketing as the audience was captive. One could not watch the show without playing the ad. However, traditional TV advertising requires zero engagement with the audience. Nor will that audience ever thank the advertiser for interrupting the content experience.
But that dynamic changes dramatically when the advertisement is the interactive content. This is possible through apps. In many circumstances, just having an app in a particular space is a powerful marketing tool. Companies that offer mainstream services are starting to take advantage of this tech-heavy space.
A sparkling example of this can be found in the credit repair services. If one goes to the App Store looking for a credit repair service as one might have done with the Yellow Pages a decade ago, they will readily find the Lexington Law app. Unlike a Yellow Page listing, the application can be easily downloaded and utilized. Everything is actionable.
Following the Eyeballs
If you want to be seen by potential customers, you have to be where they are looking, and where they are going to be looking. While there are plenty of people still watching television, that dynamic is dramatically changing. Consumer eyeballs are no longer firmly locked on daytime soaps, or anything else from the local cable provider.
Today, consumers are focusing their attention on the small screens that they carry with them. Smartphones have captivated the attention of mainstream consumers. That is not to say that no one is watching television. Some argue that we are watching even more television content than we once did. We are just not watching it on televisions. We are watching on tablets and smartphones.
While Hulu is flooded with ads, Netflix is completely ad free. Advertisers have to find more creative ways of following the eyeballs. Instead of relying on ads embedded inside of content, advertisers have to get their message onto the devices by other means. Customers spend a great deal of time and energy in the apps stores on these devices. What happens if Coca Cola offers a free, branded game. Suddenly, the content and the ad are the same, with the added bonus of voluntary engagement. When the eyeballs turn to tech, so must the marketing.
Where the Puck Will Be
Wayne Gretzky: perhaps the greatest hockey player of all time, said that he does not skate to the puck, but to where the puck will be. Apple is a company that echoes that visionary perspective. Though the wearable market is still in its infancy, Apple is convinced that it is where the puck is going to be. They are betting an awful lot on that assumption.
If Apple is right about the wrist being the place of interest for the future, advertisers need to be figuring out how to get a piece of that coveted real estate. Just as with the iPhone, apps are an obvious entry point.
Already, a personal finance service called Personal Capital has an app on Android Wear: the smartwatch platform from Google. Presumably, they will do the same when the iWatch is released. There are skating to where the puck will be, and have already scored a major victory just by being there first.
The newspaper, radio, and TV are not dead. But their markets are well established. Consumer technology is where the eyeballs are today. Smart marketers are finding ways to establish themselves on those devices.