The internet of things

The internet of things means many, many things

15th December 2015

The Internet of Things, or IoT for those who want to impress, (not sure if 'three letter acronyms' impress or annoy!) feels like it is going to be our hot topic, conceivably for the next few years. But why is it so important? How will it change our lives? Will it add value? And what do us marketers need to think about when it comes to IoT?

To start off with, we need a clear definition about what we are talking about. Wikipedia states that IoT is:
"The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects or "things" embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity, which enables these objects to collect and exchange data".

To put it quite simply it connects physical devices with computers.

IoT has been around for some time and is heavily used in utility companies; think smart meters in utilities. So why all the fuss now? Well, the convergence of several significant trends, driven by industry and consumers:

  • Growth in number of connected wearable devices - Cisco reporting in 2014 there were 109 million devices whilst emarketer state that will grow by 60% in 2015 and that by 2019 two in five internet users will have a wearable
  • Data, data, everywhere. The so called 'Big data' trend that has also been around a while is now gaining traction at both corporate and operational levels. Behind the trend through is the ability of organisations to take large quantities of unstructured data; processing and extracting insight from that data.
  • Marketing automation & programmatic media buying. I'm grouping these together since the same principles apply whether you are running Adobe Marketing Cloud, our very own automation platform Heartbeat or your own DMP. The ability of large and small organisations to bring together first and third party data to deliver personalised and more relevant experiences and content to consumers, is a potential game changer and this capability simply didn't exist a few years ago.

    When you start to combine the trends of more connected devices, more data, cheaper data storage, faster data processing about us and the abilities to action this data through automated marketing and campaign platforms, it seems that the opportunities are endless.

    All of a sudden we move away from digital media being a passive medium (ie. I am forced to participate and consume) to one that places relevant, contextual content that starts to add value to me, as the individual.

    Don't stop to think how this will work on YouTube or Facebook, but consider what you would say and do if you were able to reach that consumer at the end of their run around the park on their FitBit; on their Spotify stream when they are sat in traffic; when they have just opened your packaging; the next time they walk past your store and so on.

    The opportunities for a much smarter use for digital are virtually endless. In fact, they go so much further than the simple application of marketing. IoT, in combination new capabilities will create new business models, cottage industries, improvements to existing services and vastly improved customer service. Put simply, and to quote what I heard at a conference recently, it will allow consumers to take things off the thinking list.

So the important questions is what should we be doing now?

  • Test and learn - Test, learn, refine, test again. Probably our #1 learning from our collective years of digital experience, is that having a testing strategy (and culture!) in place if the most sustainable approach to driving successful business outcomes. Get in touch if you'd like support in developing a blueprint towards testing in your business.
  • Data
    • Get a DMP and start using programmatic if you haven't already. Pull in whatever data you already have to inform your targeting and buy in external data. To quickly get in a place where you can start learning, I would use someone else's DMP (but plan to have your own at some point in the future.)
    • Get your data strategy in place and future proof it. Ensure new agreements are in place around ownership, use and privacy of your customers data
  • Targeting - Apply previous eCRM and Direct marketing principles to your segmentation, but don't let existing barriers get in the way. So much more is possible with digital that, until you try, you often don't know.
  • Creative and messaging
    • Creative according to the channel - drive up your response rates and relevancy by designing experiences for your consumers according to the channel they are already using. Square pegs in round holes won't work anymore. To be clear a TVC doesn't work on YouTube, let alone a Facebook embedded video. That means an image for your website won't' work on Instagram. Don't be afraid to invest more in production ensuring it all feeds off a single creative 'big' idea.
    • Dynamic creative if you have 500 segments or 1000 scenarios then ensure that your messaging, creative and content work for all of those segments or scenarios. Don't panic at the thought of having to approve 500 pieces of content. At Pulse, we specialise in this kind of work and have lots of experience in producing x500 segments of video or banner creative- all with messaging delivered via a database.

    Get in touch if you would like to know how others are approaching this and how we can help unlock this kind of opportunity for your business. We think you'll be surprised by how quickly we move from briefing to output.