Since the introduction of the Apple Watch, there has been a boom in wearables and advertisers are rushing to create ads and marketing messages for this nascent industry. According to a new study from Juniper Research, revenue from ads that run on smartwatches is expected to jump to $68.6 million by 2019, which is a significant increase from $1.5 million anticipated for this year. Although it’s a fraction of total digital advertising spend, the growth prospects have prompted many companies to work on wearable ads in the past six months.
While smartwatches hold big advertising potential, they have smaller screens. Because of these smaller screens, advertisers will need to develop smaller ad formats so they’re ready to engage watch-wearers at a moment’s notice. This won’t be an easy task as advertisers will need to consider the behavior aspects of smartwatch wearers. While smartphone users are looking at the screen for minutes at a time, smartwatches will be glanced at for a few seconds. It’s hard to flash a catchy ad that will grab a user’s attention in such a brief time period. This has to be done carefully and cleverly, as smartwatch users will not react favorably to ads that interrupt a simple glance at the screen. When a buzz on a wrist drives a glance at a watch, a display ad popping-up first will quickly frustrate the use.
So, how to be creative with these small ads? One way is to lean toward sponsoring useful functions, such as telling users “Have a great run!” when they’re using a running app. Or, telling users their most recent score in a game, when they are using a sports app. Since many smartwatch applications require users to log in and register, advertisers may also be able to reach them through the apps.
Marketers are starting to make a move. The ad tech company Freckle plans to introduce wearable ads this year. Undertone, one of its rivals, has tested pushing coupons for a candy bar to consumers just as they pass a candy display at a grocery store. And TapSense, a mobile-ad exchange, said in January it’s been working on ads for the Apple Watch. According to Ash Kumas, CEO of TapSesnse, “Wearables will be a much bigger success than the iPad. We expect our revenue to be at least north of 30 percent in the next couple of years from the Apple Watch and the wearables.”
Advertisers could use smartwatches to gather valuable data and send more effective ads to larger screens, like a tablet, a phone or a PC.
Many sponsors are skeptical and say the jury is still out on how successful these ads will be. This is how advertisers felt about mobile advertising a few years ago, before it took off. I guess we’ll just have to wait watch and see.