Is the trend toward wearable technology the best thing that ever happened to marketers? Or could it end the conversation?
I recently wrote a blog post that questioned whether the public might gradually become more wary about when and where they are willing to share personal information with businesses. When people learn that information they share with one person is suddenly accessible to the government, marketers and even strangers, there just might come a tipping point. And I can’t help but wonder if that tipping point might just come as a result of wearable technology.
There is a very funny video from The Daily Show suggesting that Google Glass users are feeling discriminated against, being refused service in public establishments. Humor aside, the video does prompt an interesting conversation about this technology. The Content Marketing Association suggests that wearables will result in a huge explosion in the amount of content users create, since the devices can be constantly recording. Now if you’re a marketer that wants to do some man-on-the-street interviewing, wearables could make your job easier. Of course, if you’re a guy walking down the sidewalk with a woman that is not your wife, you might have a problem. (Creep!)
Does the public really want to be covertly recorded in their day-to-day lives without their permission? More importantly, how much information do we, or our prospects, want to share? The state of our health? Where we are, what we’re doing, how we’re feeling? Wearable technology will have the ability to collect more data − surreptitiously − than ever before. (Creep!) Having access to all that data could be a boon to marketers. Until people start opting out, that is.
A recent article in Bloomberg discussed how marketers are excited by the possibilities this technology offers, and they’re experimenting with different ways they can use wearables to deliver their message. But the article also discusses ‘the creep factor’, which is my point here.
“We go back to the creep factor, which comes up so often when talking about personalization and in using data,” Yeager said. “You run into privacy considerations — consumers are definitely aware of that. That’s something that they have to consider when they’re building these applications — how far is too far?”
– Bryan Yeager, an analyst at EMarketer Inc.
And when people become more aware of just how much data they’re providing and who has access to that data, will they keep sharing? Or will they put on the brakes?
There’s an App for That
B2B marketers know that apps are big business. Recently, Wearable World partnered with American Airlines in a contest for the most travel-friendly app for wearable technology. The winning app, from UsTwo, would enable family, friends (or maybe your boss) to monitor where you are in your journey. As you arrive at the airport, make it through security, board the plane, take off and land, the app pushes notifications to both you and another person of your choice. So, if you’re on a business trip, and your boss is on the other end of your push notifications, you might not want to hang out in the airport bar for hours while you’re waiting for your connection to that business conference. (Creep!) But if you’re the head of marketing for a brand, like Jose Cuervo, there might be an opportunity there.
Another app that came out of the contest is InFlight Social that, after you connect to the plane’s Wi-Fi, checks your Facebook and LinkedIn accounts to see if there’s anyone on the plane that’s in your contact list. My Facebook account is strictly for play, while I use LinkedIn as a career tool. While there may be some crossover in my contact list, most are separate. So, if I use that app, I could be stuck with a business contact as a travel buddy while I’m on a strictly non-business trip. (Creep!)
It remains to be seen whether the downside (lack of privacy) of wearable technology will cause people to question sharing personal information. There’s no doubt that the app market will explode to take advantage of all the data that wearables can collect. A lot of the apps will undoubtedly have a creep factor. Will our audience really choose to share every detail of their life just so that we can put another piece of content in front of them? Or will they start to opt out of the conversation?