The ongoing transformation of our lives by mobile computing is perhaps the most significant technological revolution of the last century, and it continues to leave its mark wherever it goes, much like a child whose hands are covered in chocolate. 2016 promises to further this impact – with significant amounts of fudge smeared across its face.
This analogy is kind of falling apart, but it is going somewhere, I promise.
Think about it. Every single one of us has a GPS-enabled location-tracking purchase-remembering Facebook-connected supercomputer in our pockets. The amount of data it collects, generates, and distributes is amazing, and 2016 is the year our mobile devices begin to come into their own as marketing drivers.
And how’s that?
Starbucks already sort of does this. When I walk into a Starbucks, or hell, if I’m just sort of in the vicinity of a Starbucks (and as a Manhattanite, this is pretty much always), my phone subtly suggests maybe I open up the Starbucks app and place an order for, I dunno, a venti chai latte with a dash of cinnamon on top or something.
Now, Starbucks was able to do this because it’s a massive multi-billion dollar company that entered into a special arrangement with Apple. But with the rise of consumer-level wireless beacons like Apple’s iBeacon, location-based marketing that pays attention to who you are and where you are will be able to bombard you with messaging you may or may not want to hear.
The companies that do location-based marketing right will be the ones who are subtle about it, nudging rather than blasting, suggesting rather than yelling. Starbucks actually offers a good model; they encourage a purchase simply by making it easy to buy instead of making my phone buzz with their latest deal.
And in the future, we can expect these ads to get more and more targeted, as they start to talk with our social media profiles; they’ll know what sorts of products or services we might be in the mood for and how we’re likely to consume it.
Either way, it’s probably going to be less annoying than ads before our YouTube videos.
Wearable Technology and the Internet of Things (IoT)
You know Fitbit? That little watch thing that helps you stay in shape?
Turns out that’s a marketing device.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a huge marketing opportunity for companies who use them right. Our endless drive to quantify and record every detail of our lives, from fitness trackers to smart fridges to Netflix-enabled television, is providing businesses and marketers with truly monstrous amounts of information that we can use to market more effectively to the people we’re interested in doing business with.
Imagine if your Fitbit, integrated with an app on your phone or tablet, offered you discounts on health insurance, or gym memberships, or suggested trainers. Imagine if your fridge, integrated with your calendar, knew you were low on salsa – and could serve you deals from your local supermarket, or an online grocer like FreshDirect. What if your car, instead of flashing a check engine light, could drive you right to the nearest mechanic? Or if during a long car drive, it could point you toward a highly-rated motel for the night?
It’s impossible to say right now what every opportunity in these scenarios would be; would it be driven by Yelp reviews? Social relevance? Would there be something along the lines of Google PageRank for real-world locations and interactions?
These are avenues for marketing and brand promotion that are beginning to open up to us. Soon, we’ll start to see them for the biggest companies. But shortly thereafter, expect them to become, like a Facebook page, required for every business.