Wearables May Yield A Flood Of ‘Emotional’ Data

loren-hillbergData-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Loren Hillberg, president and general manager at Thinknear by Telenav.

Location data from smartphones has fundamentally reshaped marketers’ ability to understand and target consumers. Now wearables promise to unleash a flood of even deeper and more personal data that can enable truly emotional connections.

Shipments of wearables are projected to reach almost 112 million units in 2018, up from less than 20 million this year, according to IDC. The market value is projected to reach $27 billion this year, up from $1.3 billion just two years ago.

This development presents unique opportunities for marketers, both empowering and risky. These new types of data will offer a much more intimate type of insight at the point of engagement and may therefore make possible very different types of campaigns with potentially much deeper levels of consumer connection. The risk of targeting too closely and creating a negative consumer experience, however, will be ever present.

Where Can You Take It?

Wearables offer the potential for marketers to harness “emotional” data. A brand, for example, could target people who slept four hours or less, offering them coffee drinks or sleep aids. Marketers could use accelerometer or body sensor data that monitors things like heart rate, blood pressure, adrenaline, perspiration or body temperature to target people who just finished a workout with a running shoe ad or healthy replenishment options such as protein, power bars or granola.

And perhaps, a little further out, body sensors may infer how someone responds to an ad, helping marketers further optimize campaigns and decide who best to target and what creative to use.

Wearable and biometric data will add a layer to location-based targeting that enables brands to provide an even more relevant experience based on time of need.

Think of it as Immersive Marketing 2.0 – learning more about where your customers are and how they feel when they are there.

A New Era Of Data-Driven Marketing

Wearables may garner a new era of marketing that is less about commercials and more about customer-centric experiences. The data from what we eat, how we exercise and the way we sleep creates an engine for developing personalized product recommendations – or even products themselves. You may be able to one day order a protein bar created just for you based upon your workouts and food taste profile with a single click.

Our shopping experiences will improve with ever-increasing sources of data. But brands must be more diligent than ever with privacy issues. Part of this can be addressed at the front end, with users able to “opt in” and “opt out” as they wish, deciding what they want to share with one brand or multiple brands.

Smart marketers will put more control in the hands of the consumer so they can decide which data is shared and which isn’t. For example, with Strava and MapMyFitness, users freely share their cycling routes with the public to help build a community. Users may be less willing to share other types of data, such as heart rate, home address or sleep patterns, but some users may be quite willing to share this data. In either case, users will want to have control over what they share and the extent to which marketers use it.

Furthermore, consumers should have the ability to delete their data and it should be clear who owns the data, whether it’s the user or the developer.

The Marketer’s Challenge

Aside from giving users control, marketers must meet the privacy challenge head-on. They must first and foremost be loyal to users. They must safeguard the data so they don’t pull an Ashley Madison debacle with people’s personal data.

They must also be advocates for the user instead of the brand. Marketers need to deliver value to users in the form of information, product recommendations, coupons and not just commercials. And they must also balance the need for scale vs. personalization. It’s difficult to build interesting experiences at the personal user level while also trying to deliver ad campaigns at scale.

It took four years after the debut of the iPhone for ads on smartphones to take off, so we likely have to wait while before wearables-driven ads become commonplace. In the meantime, marketers should consider what this opportunity portends and begin testing new applications. The implications will be significant.

Follow Loren Hillberg (@lhillberg), ThinkNear (@Thinknear) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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