Apple Watch will usher in 'reimagining' of content marketing, say agencies

By Jessica Davies | News Editor

March 10, 2015 | 11 min read

Apple's highly anticipated smart watch range was finally unveiled last night, with prices ranging from $349 (£299) to $17,000 (£13,500), depending on the metals they are made from and the straps they are bought with.

The watches, which will go on sale on 24 April, boast features including longer battery life for the larger models, and incorporate Apple Pay – opening up contactless mobile payments for the watches.

BMW and Facebook have already produced apps for the Apple Watch, and The Drum spoke to mobile experts to decipher what other opportunities the new products could raise for marketers.

Meanwhile some have urged marketers to be cautious when it comes to the kinds of experiences they should look to create on the watches, so as to ensure they don't risk alienating consumers.

James Chandler, global mobile director, Mindshare

The Apple Watch demos clearly showed that content has to be reimagined for the device – repurposed experiences from desktop and iPhone simply won’t work. Not only is the visual real estate smaller but the unique features of the Watch are a treasure trove for developers to explore and make more meaningful, personal connections with Apple Watch users.

Its launch will undoubtedly accelerate smartwatch take up, similar to iPad (50%+), although, they really defined the tablet category with iPad whereas the smartwatch category is already cluttered. Regardless, if you have an Apple ecosystem (TV, iPhone, Mac, iPad) this is an extension of that - and even more so where you start to link to HomeKit and CarPlay - opportunities are amazing.

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The real plus is that content, marketing, experience (whatever we want to call it) has to be completely reimagined for Watch. Brands will need to think about frequency too - there's a scenario where the Watch becomes like a notifications hell - would liken it to the Minority Report scene when Tom Cruise has the Japanese guys eyes is walking down the street getting 'shouted at' by hundreds of brands. Intimate, context-aware and meaningful communication makes sense - but there's no playbook or guidelines for wearables yet - which I think is the most exciting bit.

Illico Elia, head of mobile, DigitasLbi

Apple is expected sell between 15 and 20 million watches by the end of the year, significantly more than the 6.8 million smart watches sold in total last year. We anticipate competing products, especially those undercutting Apple on price, to sell in considerably larger volumes than in 2014, with the market as a whole reaching 30 and 35 million units.

This changes the market dynamics for smart watch apps and service, we are already seeing a lot of interest in this space, primarily a consequence of the Apple halo, but it is important to retain an appreciation that developments in 2015 should be driven by a desire to experiment, build positive perception, and be a first mover in this space, rather than being primarily about direct return on interest.

Apple Pay on the Apple Watch is chiefly about replacing the credit card in physical point of sale transaction. Just as with contactless credit and debit cards this requires both awareness, infrastructure implementation, and consumer behaviour change. In the UK, the last of these, outside an early adopter minority, will be the most significant barrier.

The key question is around speed and convenience. Previous mobile payment services have found, once past the initial honeymoon period, that it is very difficult to beat the utility of a physical wallet and card combination.

The Apple Watch will offer a small time-saving by being ever present on the wrist, compared to a few-seconds-away wallet in the pocket, but will face other hurdles such as hardware limitations, a lack of retail awareness and training, and the contortions that may be required to get a watch in close range of the payment terminal in some circumstances. It will only take a couple of failures for a consumer to switch back to tried and tested payment methods.

Ben Phillips, global head of mobile, MediaCom Worldwide

Apple helped define the mobile market when it launched iPhone and is set to repeat this with the Watch.

As the “invisible exhibitor” at CES & MWC this year, comparisons made against the Apple benchmark where inevitable. Watch will also create consumer focus around wearable’s, payment, proximity, design and UI creative, these are all reasons for advertisers to be excited.

Today’s winners in mobile are thinking “Mobile Creative First” and the Watch offers a new canvas for consumer engagement. Using the mobile phone as the generic UI, advertisers will be able to link powerful consumer data between a physically tethered device and the traditional handset.

When consumers invest in a device, they want to maximize the features it provides. There is no silver bullet in mobile payments; to be successful you need reach and adoption from consumer and advertiser.

Mobile payments via Apple Pay will become a natural progression as retailers begin to support the technology. The proof is in the pudding of course, but expect to see a number of advertisers building dedicated Watch/iPhone combinations to sustain the appetite of the connected consumer.

Ross Sleight, chief strategy officer, Somo

Apple’s winning formula is taking an existing technology, making it beautiful and user friendly, and opening the door for mass adoption by showcasing compelling use cases. The Cupertino gang has done it once again with the Apple Watch, showing sexy demos like the ability to check-in and unlock your door at the W without even stopping by the desk or taking out your phone.

Apple Pay integration will be a step ahead for mobile payments, however the technology isn’t necessarily much more advanced than standard contactless payments that some retailers, such as Starbucks, already accept. Additionally, as Apple Pay is still only available in the US (albeit to an extensive list of retailers now), we still have time to see the impact of an international rollout.

What will make Apple Watch really take off is the way it brilliantly packages the best functionality of all personal devices together. From fitness to phone calls to one-touch, hands-free payment through Apple Pay, the watch is about to take centrre stage in day-to-day life. Starting at $349, the Apple Watch won’t be within reach for many consumers around the world, but then again neither was the iPhone. Originally debuting at $499, an amazing 700 million iPhone devices have now been sold. It’s only a matter of time until Apple Watches are as ubiquitous as iPhones.

Mass adoption of the Apple Watch will be particularly interesting for advertisers as it is the most personal device ever. In the words of Tim Cook, “it’s not with you, it’s on you.” This allows marketers to capture increasing amounts of data on customers and target them with contextually relevant messages like never before. However, marketers should proceed with caution in considering the Apple Watch just another ad platform. We have to rethink how marketers communicate in a useful and utility-focused way through the device rather than interruptive advertising.

The Apple Watch will have its own app store, so brands need to start thinking about smartwatch strategies now. At launch, major players from Facebook to Uber already have apps available so it’s only a matter of time before consumers will expect to receive adaptations of the content they receive through smartphone apps.

Julian Smith, head of strategy and innovation, Fetch

The launch of the Apple Watch is sure to help shine a spotlight on the growing connected wristwear market. The media buzz that this launch inevitably garners will help to bring the smartwatch category to the attention of the technology laggards out there, much more so that all the previous smartwatch launches (from the likes of Samsung, Motorola or LG) have managed to do.

It is, however, only likely to be seriously considered for purchase by a few early adopter Apple lovers, given its expected high price tag and unestablished consumer demand. From a brand opportunity perspective, my recommendation would be not to get too carried away with the hype for the time being.

The primary marketing communication opportunity on all smartwatches will be push notifications. And in order to deliver those efficiently and effectively marketers need to have fine-tuned their app CRM strategy for smartphones before worrying about smartwatches.

Alistair Dent, head of product, iProspect

With their premium pricing, Apple have moved the perception of smartwatches from gimmick to luxury product. With pricing more akin to a smartphone or fashion watch than an accessory, they are lending an air of legitimacy to smartwatches. Although the features are similar to Android watches and the platform integration is weaker, you can be sure the build quality and third party support will be stronger.

A fractured landscape makes mobile payments a tougher play for Apple. The banks’ own system Softcard failed miserably, and Google’s Wallet product has never made it beyond the US. With the marketing savvy of Apple, consumers in the UK can hopefully expect enough retailer and bank interest to help move mobile payments across the Atlantic.

The opportunity for app developers to make their notifications and simple actions even more streamlined should help the best brands leverage this new marketing and UX.

JR Little, global head of innovation, Carat

The watch will kick-start a new era for app developers – some good and some bad. Usefulness is key. If the developer and app is trying to sabotage a screen with advertising, it will not work, it will only annoy users. If the developer and app serves an unmet need and delights the consumer, it will will thrive.

However, Apple will suddenly have access to a lot more data. The new watch will provide Apple with a wealth of data about health, movements, interactions, purchases, and more. This, more than the sale of metal wrist straps, is highly valuable. Advertisers will want access to that data. Advertisers and media companies need to think beyond traditional definitions of advertising and be useful. Make something that consumers want and slip in the advertiser name in a subtle manner.

The Apple Watch will expedite the shift to mobile payment.Contactless has spoiled consumers, it’s only a matter of time till consumers want to carry even fewer items and save even more time. Why pull out a wallet and card to tap, when the watch is faster and more secure?

Lawrence Weber, managing partner innovation, Karmarama

If Apple convince people who don't wear watches to wear watches, they are going to do it in two ways:

1) By allowing consumers and brands to explore the powers of the Digital

Touch in creative ways

2) By making the watch a piece of aesthetic utility that makes our lives


The watch is too small for traditional content to be hugely successful, beyond tease content, and notifications too intrusive for brand advertising however well targeted.

The winning brands and agencies will those that can develop user experiences with longevity and utility, once the initial spate of PR led one-offs have faded. The watch is an even more personal device than the phone, so it feels like a medium for relationship building not interruption.

Paul Bennun, chief creative officer, Somethin Else

This isn’t a venue for content marketing in the sense most agencies use the word — although it most certainly is a place where brand promises can be delivered, and content can be a part of that. When Tim Cook says it’s the most personal device Apple have ever made, he’s right.

Every pixel, every interaction, has to be entirely solicited by the user and provide value to the watch owner; absolutely everything that is not utterly user-focussed and economical, designed with the same precision and design as the watch itself, will be viewed with anger and disgust by the user. Even if brands could push random content to the device — which they can’t — they shouldn’t. If you want to be on that phone, you have to deserve to be there.


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