The Internet Of Things – The Future Of Tomorrow
One technology trend that has come up recently is Internet of Things or IoT. It is quite a broad category, and often used as a tech buzzword, but it has real implications for where the future of business, marketing and advertising will lie.
Essentially, IoT is the rise of nearly everything being connected to the internet, whether it is a smart appliance, interactive doorbells or a smart toothbrush (Even the Apple Store sells them now!) For marketers and advertisers, this is a shift in the way that data can be gathered, and a continuation of the increasing trend of using “big data” in marketing.
Why It Could Be So Transformative For Advertisers
In the old days (like 2017) a customer walks into your store and buys one of your products – once it leaves your control you have no idea what happened with the product. Did the customer like it? Was it defective? Did they actually take it out the box and use it? There was no easy way of knowing. Even e-commerce hasn’t fixed this problem. You would send surveys, but they rarely get filled out. This limited toolset doesn’t give you the feedback you need to improve your products and marketing.
Now as a manufacturer, since you are able connect your product to the internet, you do get that feedback. Say you make a connected refrigerator. Now you know when it was opened, how it is performing and even when it breaks. You could use it to give the user helpful hints about how much more energy they would save if they kept the door closed more. You could use the data to make improvements to future products based on consumer habits. Or, less benevolently, you could sell the usage patterns of this consumer to other companies for additional profit. IoT opens up a world of possibilities for hardware makers.
The Colgate smart toothbrush that I was previously referring to. It connects to your phone via Bluetooth, and helps to form better brushing habits with games in the app.
Remember that smart toothbrush I talked about earlier? It is actually a great example of the current limited state of IoT. The toothbrush itself has no direct way to report back to the manufacturer, it relies on users interacting with it using a smartphone and Bluetooth. While this is clearly a weakness for advertisers, for consumers the elephant in the room here is definitely privacy and control over their data. Whether or not consumers will want these new connected devices will depend in large part on how secure they feel. Having a refrigerator report back on what foods you have, how often and when you open the door could be very disconcerting. Advertisers will have to strike a careful balance between gaining enough data, but not invading the privacy of consumers too much. If consumers feel advertisers aren’t being transparent and are just using them for data mining, they will likely shy away from these connected smart products.
Role in the future
IoT has the potential to completely transform business over the next several years. Companies are always looking to make their marketing more personal and relevant to users, and that has historically been a struggle. Digital advertising and database marketing has closed some of that gap, but physical products didn’t get the same benefits as digital products. With the ability to make almost everything a connected device, that gap will shrink dramatically. I think IoT will play a huge and critical role in the future world of marketing and business data.