Listen : Audio version of this article
Wearable technology is increasingly popular and thus an increasingly viable advertising medium.
According to eMarketer, almost a quarter of U.S. adults own a wearable device.
Wearables could represent a huge step forward in marketing practices.
devices are simultaneously an ad medium and a rich source of customer data.
The biometric sensors in wearables track user data like heart rate, location, and emotional status. Their displays can be used to serve ad content responsively to users based on these biological cues.
This data would allow businesses to create more personalized and relevant experiences for customers based on their current mindset.
Review this article to learn how wearable technology promises to bolster advertising processes as well as the challenges advertisers face with these devices.
1. Wearables Offer Insight into Buying Behavior
Wearable technology uses biometric sensors to track the user’s emotional state.
Emotion is linked to buying behavior, meaning that biometric cues can reveal when someone is primed to make a purchase.
For example, an elevated heart rate suggests that the user is excited. A change in skin conductivity (goosebumps) indicates that the user is intensely engaged with their surroundings.
The location-tracking data from wearables could help companies understand the context of these emotions and allow advertisers to be responsive to customers’ real-time desires.
Companies could then invest in more relevant, personalized, and effective ads. Aligning ads to users and their unique circumstances can boost both conversions and returns for advertising efforts.
Wearables could give advertisers access to contextual data that allows them to capitalize on consumer emotions in real-time.
2. Implementing Ads on Wearables Could Be Challenging
Effectively implementing ads into wearables could be a challenge for businesses.
The screens of wearable devices are small, just 1.3 inches wide on an Apple SmartWatch.
Playing ads on such a small display could negatively interrupt and diminish the user experience.
MarketingLand found that mobile interstitial ads alienate users because the ad appears to be over-large relative to the display size.
People may block ads or abandon wearable devices if the ad experience is sufficiently disruptive.
Like smartphones and email, wearables are an intimate device that people prefer to be free of annoyances and interruptions.
Creating ads that are effective on a small display is another challenge. Limited real estate and low pixel count both constrain the use of creativity and impact the amount of copy in the ad.
Each wearable device also has its own screen dimensions, which further complicates the process of formatting ads and leveraging different ad formats.
Businesses will need to address these wrinkles before ads go live on wearable devices.
3. Advertising on Wearables Could Violate Privacy
People want both a personalized ad experience and their privacy.
Companies that fail to consider the “privacy-personalization paradox” risk alienating customers in their ad efforts.
While most people trust apps that track their location, it’s unclear if consumers will be comfortable with brands accessing their biometric data.
While only 15% of people are uncomfortable with apps tracking their location, health data can be seen as much more invasive and personal. Businesses should be careful not to violate users’ privacy.
Brands also must not appear “Big-Brotherly” in their advertising. If users perceive a link between their emotions and the ads they receive, it may alienate them.
The concerns about data breaches on wearables are “significant,” according to Davide C. Orazi of Monash University and Greg Nyilasy of the University of Melbourne. Businesses should pay close attention to how they handle people’s health information.
Location and health-related information could be used maliciously, yet few protections exist for consumers at present.
A federal regulation that gives consumers full control of their biometric data could ease concerns and pave the way for advertising on wearables.
Currently, wearables manufacturers have yet to open up their devices to advertising.
This may change once data privacy improves and device manufacturers are confident that advertising won’t lead to churn.
The Future of Wearable Tech and Advertising
An ad medium that moves with its audience and delivers real-time data is exciting.
Wearable devices could expand the targeting possibilities for advertisers, helping them to identify and capitalize on customers in a sales-ready state.
Still, if and when device manufacturers allow for advertising, businesses will need to address concerns about user privacy.