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The role of wearable tech in the future of mobile marketing

To some, wearable tech might take the definition of mobile marketing into the realm of science-fiction fantasy. However, while wearable tech may be all the rage in the world of bits and bytes, we ask: Just how much should brand marketers really care about it? Marketing speaks to Tuomas Peltoniemi, head of digital at TBWA/Digital Arts Network, to find out more.

Marketing: It seems that when brands explore mobile marketing, they view it as just another media channel. They think, “Oh, let’s create another app”, or “Oh, let’s get our advertisements onto phones”.

Peltoniemi: I agree. There are two main considerations for brands marketing themselves on mobile devices. The first is optimising your own services, making your website work on mobile devices properly, for instance. The second is then promoting yourself, via mobile SEO, SEM, mobile advertising campaigns, and branded applications. With mobile, there are still lots of things brands aren’t doing right. Many brands don’t even have mobile-optimised websites, which is just a lost traffic opportunity.

Marketing: We’re wondering how mobile marketing can be taken to the next level. Why would a brand care about wearables?

PeltoniemiI think wearables are like any other marketing tactic or channel –  not everything is for every brand. Sports, entertainment, and car brands are likely to be big. The example I always think of is the ‘connected car’where consumers could, in the future, control their car from their phone. For example, if you live in a cold country, you could start up your car’s heating from your phone as soon as you wake up in the morning – things like that.

Marketing: So currently, mobile marketing mostly involves brands promoting themselves on smartphones and tablets. What other devices should they be looking at?

PeltoniemiA lot of devices such as the Google Glass just aren’t there yet, so they’re not worth promoting yourself on. I think the next wave of wearables is in creating devices for people. The smart-watch space may be interesting to brands. But even here, there aren’t a lot of advertising opportunities. There are, however, opportunities to create applications that are of value to people. Really, for brands to look at marketing on mobile devices that don’t include smartphones and tablets is a little premature.

Marketing: So for the moment, smartphones and tablets are just a more accessible medium for brands to promote themselves on. But are there brands that have successfully marketed themselves via other tech devices?

PeltoniemiPaulig, a European coffee brand, created a mug where an e-ink display is activated when hot liquid is poured into it. It’s linked to a smartphone, allowing people to upload selfies. It got a lot of press at launch. That will be the next wave of creating products as brand vehicles, where a lot of the value is from publicity.

Marketing: So at this stage, looking at wearables as a branding tool may be a bit of a stretch. When will it become necessary for brands to take them into consideration?

Peltoniemi: I think it will only be a couple of years before they start to become more accessible to people. The devices aren’t mainstream yet just because they’re built for ‘technology first’. Could you have, for example, a chip in your suit button that allows you to make payments? You could. But right now initiatives like those will be led by startups, not brands. Brands such as Tory Burch (who created accessories that are meant to be worn over Fitbits, thus making them look more stylish)will gauge what traction they get, but largely, unless the products become attractive enough for people to want to wear, brands won’t invest.

Peltoniemi will be sharing more on mobile marketing strategies at Marketing magazine’s annual Mobile Marketing Interactive conference.

To attend the event, please contact Carlo Reston at or call +65 6423 0329. Further information can be found by clicking here.

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