Apple sets up a decision between privacy and personalization

Apple's HomePod, announced today at WWDC / Apple

While way short of a doomsday scenario, marketers hearing about the coming autoplay video blocking and anti-tracking options on Safari should view the news out of Apple's WWDC 2017 as a mandatory call to up their games.

It is logical to believe that given the choice, some mobile users will elect to separate themselves from brand messages. The numbers in the US, at least, say that smartphone owners have yet to make that decision. In fact, despite the availability of multiple enabling sources, 94% of mobile ad blocking happens in Asia-Pacific, according to PageFair's 2017 Ad Block Report.

Will any of this change with Apple’s next version of its operating system? We need to know more, especially if and when the announced desktop functionality will make its way to iOS.

In the meantime, mobile marketers must work today to improve the experiences that they deliver. Too often, ads are intrusive, not relevant to individuals, and fall too short of a level of creativity that fits into the compelling category.

Surely, some mobile users block ads and shun other marketing because they can. However, others choose to exchange their personal information for value. In fact, 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a retailer that recognizes them by name, recommends options based on past purchases, or knows their purchase history, according to Accenture.

The key for brands is to use the gathered personal information wisely and to not be creepy, especially when more blocking options like the one announced today by Apple becomes available.

Beyond ads, despite the absence of an announcement on a new iPhone - widely rumored now for the Fall - Apple’s 2½ hour keynote brought much for marketers to consider:

One could argue that the only thing more hyped in mobile than the Apple Wallet has been augmented reality. There actually were significant strides made with each.

First, Apple unveiled a person-to-person Apple Pay option that enables the easy transfer of money in seconds through iMessage. This certainly will bring new users into the payment world and make mobile owners more comfortable in transacting without cash, checks or PayPal. The ramifications for marketers are many, including the need for retailers to bring in mobile payment options. Apple claimed that half of US retailers will have Apple Pay by year’s end. Those that don’t will be in danger of being in a competitive disadvantage.

The AR advancements are noteworthy, in part because of the ease in inserting differentiated experiences into apps will give many marketers reasons to step on the gas pedal and create environments that help sell products and separate their apps from those of their competitors. Surely, some brands will move from thinking that a mobile website is sufficient given the new functionality in apps and the reach to iOS users.

The most anticipated announcement delivered a home speaker now known as HomePod, which will go on sale in December. What was most interesting was the heavy concentration on sound, not Siri. HomePod was positioned as the best way to play music in your home, not as an Amazon Echo or Google Home slayer. That might be the only way that Apple could go given the still unsatisfactory experience of Siri.

We expected lots of talk about improvements to Siri, especially since we heard last week from Mary Meeker that Google’s accuracy is at 95%. Instead, we got lip service that sounded more like silence. For now, at least, marketers shouldn’t view the HomePod as an effective way to sell product. Amazon and Google are the best options there.

When it came to the AppleWatch, the company said that the next version of the operating system will allow for a two-way data exchange between the watch and a piece of gym equipment. But it would be prudent to believe that the wearables category is still a work in progress, especially because Apple didn’t move the needle meaningfully on the mission of telling users what the figures mean and what the user could or should do with the information. So that should limit mass adoption.

But overall, Apple showed enough innovation at WWDC 2017 to give consumers and marketers reason to believe that the upcoming introduction of the 10th anniversary edition of the iPhone will capture hearts, minds, dollars, and our attention.

Click here for a more comprehensive update over Apple's WWDC 2017 announcements

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Jeff Hasen

Jeff Hasen is a digital strategist with Possible Mobile in Denver, Colorado.

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