Cracking Advertising on the Apple Watch

The Apple Watch is just a few days away from being worn by approximately one million consumers who purchased the wearable device during the pre-sale.

While we don’t know what the watch (and Apple) have to offer to advertisers and publishers I would like to look at some new aspects the watch should bring to the online marketing world. More specifically I’d like to focus on the advertisers and publishers and the opportunities and challenges Apple’s watch will present to both parties.


The Race for Our Attention

The biggest challenge for publishers will be the limited notification space on the Apple Watch. It could potentially become very competitive as every publisher (and advertiser) competes for the watch owner’s attention. Take a look at your mobile device – How many notifications will appear on your lock screen if you don’t touch it for an hour? If you’re the type of user who chooses to receive notifications from a dozen different apps, it’s safe to assume that you’ll be getting way more than a few notifications over the course of an hour. Every one of us has a limit as to how many notifications we are willing to tolerate before hiding the notifications from specific apps or worse – removing some apps altogether. For Apple to define guidelines regarding the maximum number of notifications per app a day on its watch is something I don’t believe will happen. Publishers will have to find the right balance between what’s agreeable and what’s irritating when it comes to the amount of notifications pushed.
I believe that location based and personalized notifications is the key here. To receive relevant updates from your apps when you’re at work, when you’re at home, when you’re traveling, etc. would make sense. Some mobile devices already have the ability to adapt the apps on your screen to the location, so there’s no reason this shouldn’t be a feature in wearable devices that have GPS abilities such as the Apple Watch.


It’s Getting Personal

What about the advertisers? Currently there is no format for ads on wearable devices, but once the developers will figure out a way to show ads on these screens, advertisers will mostly rely on trial and error with the new formats. The limited size of the Apple Watch screen and the current lack of a video playback feature stands against the growing video trend in mobile advertising. This means that for now, native advertising is the only advertising method advertisers can use for wearable devices. This is good news for advertisers; Apple publicizes the Apple Watch as its “most personal device”. To make it so, advertisers will need to focus on this personal experience by providing the owners with highly personalized content that will eventually boost engagement and make sure that ads won’t be invasive by popping up on top of a currently used app.


Watch What Happens

Both publishers and advertisers need to remember that the real functions of the watch are the ability to check notifications at a quick glance and to engage with the watch through voice commands or simple touch interactions. If that is kept in mind while developing advertising platforms, I believe we will see some really interesting techniques and great opportunities. If not in the first generation of the device, then certainly in the generations to come. I might even consider getting an iPhone for a watch like that.


ProBoris Shurp is Marketing Executive at dmg

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