2015: The Year of the Smart Watch?

CES 2014 captured marketers’ attention with the idea of the “connected home” and “Internet of Things.” This week, thousands of marketers are headed to Las Vegas to learn about the latest innovations in wearables, mobile and tablet devices, VR, and 3D printing. While there will undoubtedly be hype around all of these, the elephant in the room will be the smart watch: this year’s canary or flat-out dud.

In October 2014, following the roll-out of the iPhone 6, Apple unveiled Apple Pay, which is predicted to accelerate the growth of mobile payments this year, reducing friction of on-the-go purchases. But beyond wireless payments, the Apple Watch offers a multitude of possibilities for brands.

Complementary to Apple Pay, brands may soon be able to trigger location-based ads on a consumer’s Apple Watch device via beacon technology.From push notifications to unique, hyperlocalized deals and special event promotions, smart watch technology may mean better targeting, providing marketers with the necessary contextual cues (location, time, and user-unique historical data) to ensure relevant messaging.

To date, these opportunities have been purely speculation… to be put to rest at CES 2015.

This week, TapSense will release an Apple Watch ad-buying service, which will provide a “sneak peek” for how brands can serve up ads on the device (tentatively scheduled to launch later this year).

However, the success of smart watch technology, inclusive of the Apple Watch, will be dependent on adoption (nearly 10% of internet users already own a smart watch) and sentiment towards brand efforts.

To date, wearable technology has been stigmatized as “nerdy.” The recent global campaign for Fitbit attempts to dispel that misconception and aims to achieve widespread adoption in the fitness category. The Tory Burch and FitBit partnership demonstrates another effort to tap into a niche, fashion-forward target audience. Withings also recently launched its competitor to the Activite health watch, which is much less expensive and could help with adoption among the less wealthy fashion-forward.

Additionally, although intended to be a notification center, it is foreseeable that the smart watch may become a mobile spam folder for consumers, housing unread push notifications and alerts.

If the smart watch does take off, beyond everyday payments and activity tracking, this technology could become a core part of a consumer’s “connected home,” acting as a super high-tech remote to control one’s TV, computer, audio system, home security system, or car.

This year will mark the acceleration, evolution, or death of this technology. So here’s to the smart watch! 2015 or bust.

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