written by: Zhu Lin, Cherilyn

A lot of us may not be well-acquainted with the concept of “Internet of Things” (IoT). In short, it simply means to connect the physical world with the digital world. In spite of its unfamiliarity among the general public, the hype around IoT has been mellowed recently and increasingly attracted the attention of marketers. With ubiquitous connectivity, marketers are working to permeate brand and product information into consumers’ daily lives, to make connections and to form a good picture of consumer behaviors and consumption habits.

On account of the ubiquitous sensors and tags that deliver and receive information, IoT technology does not merely make life more convenient. It might as well prompt interactive advertising and bridge the gap between brands and consumers. The technology behind Diageo’s Johnnie Walker Blue Label smart bottle, for instance, allows the company to track the bottle movement across supply chain and send different set of information to their customers before and after their purchase. Diageo has proved to the world that IoT is more than just a buzzword. Marketers indeed are able to leverage customer data and send timely information to their customers in order to constantly maintain an engaging relationship with them.

While the world is heralding the arrival of a new technological era, the content of advertising might as well undergo significant transformation. “Personalized content” might become an essential element of advertising in the era of IoT. L’Oreal-owned Kérastase’s newly announced Smart hair brush is a perfectly illustration of the insight. Apart from promoting the generic features of the product, it recommends personalized haircare products according to individual user’s hair conditions. With more “personalized content”, customers would be able to acquire a unique user experience and could easily associate the experience with the specific brand. In the not so distant future, it then wouldn’t be surprising that brands start bombarding us with “personalized experience” through advertisements on smart devices.

Both the Smart bottle and Smart hair brush excite the public with a new advertising experience where products (IoT) themselves slowly become the media vehicle. As a media platform, the device would be able to place personalized advertising content into the social flow of everyday life, allowing consumers to fully “connect” with the brand. In addition, the data tracking technology enables marketers to produce well-timed promotional advertisements which they could then precisely target their consumers’ needs and wants in order to create an excuse for consumers to have an on-going relationship with the brand.

While marketers are leveraging customers’ personal information to develop better services and products, one inevitable issue that might put their brands at stake would be the issue regarding consumer data privacy and security. There is a lack of data security protocol for IoT currently. Marketers want greater transparency in consumer usage behavior data collection with built-in IoT features for better/closer customer engagement, yet barely acquired any explicit consent form consumers beforehand. Consumers may want to receive timely product/promotion messages without compromising on personal privacy. Marketing and communications leveraging IoT as a media and consumer interactive platform is going to become much more complex and intrigue to all players (technology providers, marketers, communicators, consumers, policy regulators) within the ecosystem. How this paradoxical story is going to unfold in the near future is there for us to find out, as we are all part of this great evolution.