What Does the Apple Announcement Mean for Marketers?

September 10, 2014
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The tech world has been more excited about yesterday’s Apple announcement than for anything I’ve seen in several years.  What has become a slightly boring consumer affair in recent years was upended this year with not only the return of the Steve Jobs’ trademark line “One More Thing . . .” but also a new digital payments system.

applepayWhile what Apple does is of interest to most people in the US, it’s typically difficult to tie it to how it impacts our bottom line in the business world.  Mobile in general is huge, and the App Economy is alive and well with almost any business with an eye toward mobile having an App these days.  So what does this new mobile payment system mean for business?

In theory, it’s a new touch point with customers, and at best, it’s a highly secure and engaging way for customers to buy things from you.  In their demo, they showed an easy purchase from a Target App.  With this technology, marketers may be on the precipice to finally finishing the puzzle of consumer behavior from initial point of influence to in-store purchase in brick-and-mortar retail.  What is left in the air is how this attaches to individual identity.  Doubtless, security will be a concern with this payment technology, and they’ve clearly thought out the best way to make this as secure as possible, implementing not only Touch ID but a unique secure element in each phone.  However, tying that transaction to a person’s online identity is a gold mine for marketers – one that Apple surely has a plan to monetize, even if it’s only for their own advertising platform.

Apple also introduced the Apple Watch.  It may seem as though this is a geeky tech toy, but this wearable opens up an entirely new world for interacting with your online audience either via Social Media, or your own custom app.

We will certainly be hearing from a lot of brands and businesses in the coming months leading up to the Apple Watch release date about how they plan to build apps for this watch, but any business whose customers can benefit from real-time short-form pieces of information stands to benefit.  Consider the examples in the keynote:

  • BMW will display a map showing you how to get back to your car
  • Honeywell will allow you to control the temperature in your home
  • Pinterest will remind you when you’re near a pin

There are many more opportunities for businesses to use this new wearable as a communication tool.  Imagine being a gas station and delivering real-time price updates to people who are on a trip.  Perhaps a food company could send you recipe instructions, or a bank could update you when your account drops below a certain amount, or a restaurant could alert you when your call-in order is ready.  There are many useful, and not so useful, implications to this new wearable device.  No doubt the early adopter brands are already thinking of ways to work with the watch and the new payment system, Apple Pay.

What should you do to get ready?  I would start paying attention to the content available for my products wherever they are sold.  Although Pinterest was mentioned as a launch partner with the Apple Watch, and will give you location-based messaging, Foursquare will be in on this opportunity really quickly as well.  To prepare, start looking at your location-based brand content on Foursquare, Yelp, Pinterest, Google, and any other places that make sense.  It may be that this new wearable is not only a revolution in wearable technology, but in social and location-based awareness.

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