If you have not heard the term "Internet of Things", get ready to start hearing it because it will be an everyday phrase in the very near future. The Internet of Things is the connectivity of previously unconnected or "dark" objects. Objects in a very broad sense because all things can have the ability to be connected. Consumer goods are included in this category of everything, which means implications for marketing, data collection, and the future of social commerce. This is a new frontier in marketing, e-commerce, and social media. There were 900 Internet of Things exhibitors at CES in January of 2015. You can be sure that it will be a hot topic at future technology and digital conferences, especially those that focus on marketing and e-commerce like ThinkGlobalRetail.com.
Uses and Examples of "The Internet of Things"
Connected objects will help businesses in every industry. The increased targeting capabilities will reduce advertising costs. Other features of connected objects will help companies be more efficient. The possibilities for in store advanced merchandising with connected and smart objects include:
- Wi-Fi Tags
- Video Cameras
- Facial Recognition
- IR motion
- Gesture recognition
- Parking Space Sensor
- Door Hinges
- Shelf Weight Sensors
- Digital Signage
What are the real-world examples of the "Internet of Things" Marketing?
There are companies leading the way with smart objects that are creating marketing opportunities, collecting data, and offering targeted products. Here are a few examples; think about how each smart object will evolve and grow.
- Smart Vending Machines: Initial smart capabilities include monitoring inventory and communicating low inventory data to the owner. This leads to more efficient restocking. Other features of smart vending machines can include visual recognition to offer past choices, and collecting demographic data on who buys certain products. There are also interactive capabilities of vending machines that can help with marketing efforts, branding, contests, and more. Check out what VisitFtLauderdale is doing with Fanwise technology and their #HelloSunny campaign. Passersby in New York's Grand Central Station can get a quick escape from the cold of winter with some free sunglasses when they post on social media.
- Advertising: A great example of new advertising is a subway billboard ad by a Swedish pharmacy Apotek. The digital ad is programmed to detect the arrival of the train. There is a model on the billboard and her hair blows as the train arrives, the caption says that their hair care products "make your hair come alive".
- In-Store Mobile Apps: Target launched a new mobile app to be used in-store this past holiday season called Bullseye's Playground. It was aimed at keeping kids occupied while parent's shopped. The interactive app shows a 3D mapping of the store and allows users to play the mini-games, unlock fun game extras, all while introducing them to the hottest toys throughout the store, even leading them to items on sale. The future of this type of technology is more interaction with products and brands while in store, coupons, and customers using their mobile device to navigate through the store, even mapping their path according to shopping lists.
- Disney World: Disney is using IOT technology to power their RFID MagicBands that all guests can now wear during their vacation in the parks and other Disney properties and hotels in Orlando, FL. RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. The MagicBands are aimed at enhancing guest experiences and allows them to gain entry into the park, can be used to pay for purchases in the parks and hotels without having to take out, or even carry a wallet, reserve fast pass times on rides, and much more. All the while, Disney is collecting data on their guests and will aim to use that wealth of information collected to streamline experiences, build loyalty, and develop targeted marketing campaigns.
Technology enabled smart objects already are infiltrating all industries, even industries you wouldn't imagine like farming and pharmaceuticals. Smart tractors are helping farmers care for their land more efficiently and accurately. Then there are smart pills being tested now that can report back to doctors or care takers whether or not a patient has taken their medication as prescribed. Look for this technology to grow and develop in ways that can reach as far as the imagination.
Connected Things Become Social Smart Objects
Cisco estimates that by 2020 over 50 billion objects will be connected to the internet. Things like cameras, cars, vending machines, even prescription medications will be able to communicate via an internet connection. Some experts are calling the phenomenon Social 3.0. The implications for social commerce and connected products are almost unfathomable with endless possibilities. Internet enabled consumer goods will encompass every industry; and all of these connected products will impact social media in many ways. Not only will the connected things be able to use social media, the other end of the spectrum is that as this new technology comes online, it will attract a great deal of attention and social chatter which will lead to PR for the companies trailblazing the way.
An article from Oracle pinpoints the importance of The Internet of Social Things, "When objects communicate with one another via social networks, companies can gain tremendous opportunities to create more useful experiences." Those enhanced experiences can lead to the offering of value-added services to social followers in a company's network and the copious amounts of data collected can be beneficial in many ways. The increased connectivity will bring about a different and enhanced social community. Of course, privacy will need to become more sophisticated in the new age of The Internet of Things. However, the new era will also bring about an increased understanding of privacy and the anonymity of tracking and targeting. The public and consumers at large will learn that they benefit from sharing their information and familiarizing themselves with privacy settings in several ways. Companies can offer reduced prices when their costs are lowered from increased ROI. In addition to that, one of the main benefits predicted to come out of the Internet of Things is the streamlining of everyday experiences including reduced lines, access to buildings, better timed delivery of social content and less irrelevant, repetitive ads.