Wearable Technology: The Biggest Shift Since Social Media

Last Monday, Apple launched its new watch, the Apple Watch. This release marked a significant step in the effort to turn the company into a technology-based luxury brand. It also ushered Apple into the wearable technology business.

Many people are calling these devices “the future of mobile”. By 2016, it is predicted that smart watches will comprise about 40% of consumer wrist worn devices. Could this be the biggest shift since social media? As digital marketers, it will be extremely important that we find ways to tap into these resources.

But how?

How Wearables Will Change Digital Marketing

Usefulness and Relevance

A huge advantage of smartphones for digital marketers was the ability to track consumer habits making for a better marketing plan. Wearables will provide marketers with new types of information. For example, not only will we know where a user is and the time they arrived, but with wearables, we will be able to track user’s motives. Marketers will be able to record if a user goes to the gym, works out, then heads to happy hour with friends. Placing an ad for a bar in the area or a certain beverage like Blue Moon could help that particular user.

Through these insights, digital marketers will better understand not only how and when to engage with consumers, but also have the ability create hyper targeted ads that actually help a user.


Apple has called their watch “the most personal device yet”. Along with other wearables, it presents a new way to reach the right person, at the right time, with the right message, inviting a new way to bring customers through the door.

App developers can use iBeacon technology and/or create “geofences” that are able to sense when a consumer is in close proximity to your location. Any store front could “tap” the nearby user through their wearable to get their attention and offer a special that expires in 20 minutes.

Digital marketers and developers will be forced to change their advertising materials to be much more personal.

More Screens

Designers and developers can take advantage of a second screen. Your wearable will constantly share data to the cloud on a regular basis. This will create unique ways for ads on screens around you to change what and how they advertise. One example of this is what you would buy when you are hungry or when you are not. As we start wearing these smart watches that record heartbeat and blood sugar levels, it’s not too farfetched to think we could start to see ads on your desktop or mobile device to reflect your “bio state”.


What About Search Marketing?

If you thought wearable technology was a crazy fad or a piece of technology you could only see on Inspector Gadget you might want to rethink that. These items are extremely practical as consumers will be as connected as ever. Like smartphones, these smart watches allow for voice search in an even more practical way. No longer will consumers need to dig through their pockets or bags for their phones. All consumers need to do now is simply raise their wrist. Because of this practicality, will this increase the amount of searches through voice?

Search like you speak

Unlike typing a query in google, where we have to think about “what do I search for”, you can simply ask the question as if you were asking a friend. Shanti Shunn at Ecommerce Consulting showcases how the two are different. While typed search and voice search look completely different, they do achieve the same goal. The big difference is when we speak, we use words like “a” “for” and “me”. These “filler words” can give search engines an idea of what your intent was.

This was a big component of Hummingbird when Google released it in 2013. Instead of matching keywords, Hummingbird tries to figure out the meaning behind the words. Jim Yu, founder and CEO of BrightEdge states that “Every company should be thinking with a query mindset rather than keywords and optimizing for voice across devices, including wearables.”

So What Do We Do?

Not many understand how they will design or develop digital properties for wearables, specifically the Apple Watch. What we do understand is that users might not want all the notifications on their watch the same way they get them on their phone. With the emphasis of notification on wearables and not so much on communicating, there will be a huge breakthrough for direct message marketing apps like “Yo”. During the World Cup last year for example, the app sent users a “Yo” notification when a goal was scored. This meant there was no need to open the app and relates directly to the practicality of wearables.


While it may take time for the general masses to get on board with wearables, it is certainly not a fad and will be more commonplace like they were in the Jetsons. We as marketers will have to rethink the content and incorporate the growing role that notifications will play in the interaction of these devices. We will also have to embrace this new technology as a tool we can utilize to engage with consumers in a more targeted and effective way.



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