Now that there are more non-human devices connected to the Internet than people, the Internet of Things rivals the Internet of People. As these things transmit usage data, it opens up a goldmine of opportunity for digital marketers.
In fact, one of our recent Gartner predictions highlighted the coming revenue influence originating from wearable computing. Though our use cases focused on devices we literally wear, like smartwatches, computer embedded in clothing, glasses or contact lenses, co-author Julie Hopkins and I also include wearables such as cars, refrigerators and toothbrushes.
It started when Julie asked me if her Buick constituted a wearable. It’s a fair question. Automobiles are indeed something we frequently – wear. And as a wearable, Julie’s Buick monitors her behavior – while she’s wearing it – which it analyzes to provide actionable advice. It won’t be long before her Buick (which already has human-like qualities through voice-driven GPS wearables) say things like “… based on your past 90 day driving habits, I’ll need new tires in February versus the planned date of June.” (These same driving habits might also get leaked to State Farm).
Now Julie has a decision to make. Improve her driving habits and defer the cost of new tires (not to mention a potential insurance premium hike) or sustain her current driving behavior (which she says is a lot more fun) and incur the cost. To influence her decision, her Buick downloads specific guidelines it gets from the dealer to influence her decision towards cost deferral.
This scenario, where cars record driving behavior and warn us of unnecessary tire wear, is close. And it continues after we park and go upstairs (where our connected refrigerator says “based on your current eating behavior, you’re on track to lose 10 pounds by your sister’s wedding”).
Then there’s my $50 Beam Brush, which syncs with my smartphone to record brushing time (data that can be tracked and shared with dentist and my insurance company). Yes, Beam Brush is managing an insurance company pilot to test consumer reaction to receiving incentives, such as lower rates, in exchange for data. Of course, the same data could be used to support a rate increase.
The data marketers get from my sensor-equipped things also helps them plan. For example, Susan Stribling of Coca Cola told AdAge recently, “We’re able to attain a significant amount of data which allows us opportunities to leverage new product ideas. (Coca-Cola has 12,000 data collecting devices in burger joints, move theatres and college campuses which feed usage data back to Coke).
Of course, there’s that nagging issue that still lingers. Whose data is this, anyway? What do you think?