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The Internet of Things and the changing face of advertising

Joe Spano
Joe Spano (former) Senior Insight Executive

When most of us heard about the Internet of Things (IoT), it sounded nothing more than another trendy marketing/tech buzzword. However, the IoT has now turned into a very real and lasting phenomenon which is changing the way we live and communicate with consumers forever.

For anyone who’s still not sure about what the ‘Internet of Things’ means – it is the merging of everyday physical  products, connected to the internet, which are able to transmit and receive data.  IoT is more commonly associated with connected cars and wearable tech, but it is rapidly expanding to touch once mundane products in our daily lives, such as connected toothbrushes and kitchen knives. With 30 billion connected devices predicted to be in circulation by 2020, we must try to predict what all this consumer data will mean for advertisers.

For the first time, advertisers will be able to target consumers based on very specific and real-time data. With more data available for targeting, combined with new technology around programmatic trading, advertisers will be able to make intelligent decisions for maximising their campaign impact. Programmatic will play a fundamental role in its ability to react to - and capitalise on - big data, on a scale which would be near impossible to do manually.

IoT will also open up new discussions on privacy and the sharing of data, as advertisers could potentially be able to see when you are running low on a particular item, or see which products could fit into your daily lives and serve you ads based on this. As a marketer, the IoT will allow you to advertise right when you know a consumer is close to replacing an item. This knowledge will give advertisers an advantage in targeting consumers over traditional demographic methods. .

 Even wearables can connect to advertising. For example, if your fitness band communicates that you just went on a 10-mile run, an ad can launch on your connected device, suggesting that you might need an energy drink/food, or perhaps a new pair of running shoes.

As the IoT is still evolving, we don’t know exactly what it will look like. One thing we can be sure of is that our connected devices will generate a large amount of data on our specific activities and daily habits. As consumers, we may be reluctant to share this information. Currently around half of consumers think that adverts tailored to digitally collected data are an invasion of privacy, but society may change where those who do not share data are penalised. For example, insurance companies may move towards lower premiums for those who share their wearables’ data and charge higher rates for those who don’t. As the IoT continues to evolve, we think that conversations on privacy will definitely be top priorities.

The IoT is upon us- - as marketers we need to look into new technology and resources to enable us to stop being advertisers and start being a valuable tool in people’s lives.