Could the internet of me power the next marketing unicorn?


There is something happening globally in the world of tech, and the Middle East is not left out. Looking at the evolution of tech in the last few years we can identify three waves: The first came with all things analogue, the second fostered the power of digital and the third creates a synergy between analogue and digital, called the internet of things (IOT).

Elgar Fleisch provided a simple definition: “The basic idea of the IOT is that virtually every physical thing in this world can also become a computer that is connected to the internet”. Marketers have historically been on the hunt to find new (suitable) supports they can use to communicate with their audiences, including analogue and digital.

It is no surprise that a survey by Marketo found 51 per cent of top global marketers expect IOT to revolutionise the global marketing landscape by 2020.  Naturally, the rapid adoption of IOT creates myriad opportunities to engage with prospects. As is often the case with new tech, they don’t always come with a “how to use for marketing purposes” guide. Nevertheless, it is of the utmost importance to have a pragmatic approach when it comes to communication, as well as establishing a comprehension of the unique marketing benefits that come with IOT.

The marketing development of IOT will be initiated by advanced access to a variety of data sets and insights never previously available. With the objective of providing users with an enhanced consumer experience, always-on data collection will be activated and synched by default between numerous devices in order to identify, interpret and act on consumer needs and behaviours.

We marketers typically strive to gather as much insight as possible on our target audiences. We have commonly used marketing surveys, providing us with detailed information but not allowing us to draw real-time correlations between multiple variables. In addition to surveys, there is a range of techniques to know more about consumer behaviours, such as people meters for TV or data management platform with programmatic.

Nevertheless, there is an immense new opportunity with IOT: for the first time we will be able to follow consumers across all devices, appliances and things. This will assist marketers in improving their understanding of consumers as well as establishing real-time cause-and-effect correlations. IOT opens the door to real-time ecosystems, where things will collect data based on consumer location, consumption, behaviour, preference, mood and purchasing pattern, which can also be simplified and predicted by machine learning. They can subsequently provide marketers with an unseen source of knowledge and understanding, facilitating immediate marketing and e-commerce responses.

In reference to marketing fundamentals, if marketers kick off their journey with discovering and understanding consumer insights, the following stage would be to identify ways to communicate with that audience. There is a strong relationship between tech and marketers who actively elaborate ways to leverage tech for advertising and communication purposes.

Retrospectively, we have seen this happening with the internet, social media, mobile and wearable devices. Arguably, this trend will be the same for IOT, meaning there will be consolidated advertising networks made available to advertisers.

A fairly common example is a connected fridge that automatically keeps track of available items and communicates with your mobile device when you are running low on some. Given the importance data plays in this ecosystem, we can imagine a retailer having access to your connected fridge inventory management data system and offering you a 20 per cent discount voucher just before your place your order.

To ensure the IOT infrastructure works to the fullest, it will be important to reach ubiquity, allowing all things to communicate in real time with the advertisers playing a key role.

Matt Goddard describes this interlinked IOT network in the following statement: “Maybe you push inventory warnings to a smartphone app that automatically adds items to a grocery list; perhaps the fridge tells the smart TV to run milk ads on its streaming service. If the consumer buys milk at the grocery store using her mobile wallet, the wallet tells the TV to not run milk ads later that day.”

Ultimately, advertisers will play an essential role in this ecosystem, given they will have access to hyper relevant contextual data. The development and delivery in real time of location and contextually relevant ads will be indispensable to guarantee that this IOT/advertising ecosystem works.

One of the inherent strengths of IOT is the capability to move from mass to individual marketing. Undoubtedly, this will expand beyond advertising and have an impact on the personal services provided by these “smart things”.

It is clear that IOT will give birth to the “Internet of me”, a personalised consumer experience powered by connected smart things, pushing boundaries of advertising with an omnipresent proposition, relying on actionable real-time consumer data.

With opportunities ranging from personal service support to predictive e-commerce it is up to device makers, marketers and brands to collaboratively work together to deliver intuitive consumer experiences based on insight, data and personalisation.

John Ekambi, Digital director, MEC MENA



Filed Under: Essays