The Apple Watch — the wrist-worn wearable tech device that’s scheduled to be released in “early 2015” — may be the one of the most anticipated products in Apple’s history. Not only is the Apple Watch the company’s first entry into the wearables market, the device promises to provide users with exciting new communication methods, such as the ability to send doodles, tap patterns, or even heartbeats to other users. These types of intimate communication features are why Apple is calling the Apple Watch “its most personal device ever.” On the other hand, will users be annoyed if this “personal device” delivers messages from an advertiser instead of one of their close friends?
Mobile-marketing firm TapSense recently announced plans for the first advertising platform for the Apple Watch on its official blog. The company also unveiled the service at the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that took place in Las Vegas earlier this month, reports Reuters. The ad-delivery service will be geared toward app developers and brands that may be unfamiliar with how to best create advertisements for the yet to be released smartwatch.
“Wearables and Internet of Things (IoT) are the next frontiers in the mobile revolution. We are excited to announce industry’s first programmatic ad platform for Apple Watch developers and brands,” said TapSense co-founder and CEO Ash Kumar. “While most of our competitors are focused on banner ads and legacy platforms, we are focused on innovation and next generation platforms. Apple Watch has the potential to be a category disruptor similar to iPod or iPhone and we believe that it provides great opportunities for brands and developers to deliver engaging experiences to consumers.”
The advertising platform will be optimized for the Apple Watch’s unique technologies and relatively small screen size. According to TapSense, the service will not utilize traditional mobile device banner ads that take up valuable screen estate, but will instead utilize interactive interfaces accessible through the WatchKit SDK. However, this will not include watch faces, as the company claimed earlier this month. In an update posted to the official TapSense blog, the company noted that watch faces are currently inaccessible through the WatchKit SDK.
“For an iOS developer, Apple WatchKit provides familiar tools and APIs as well as exciting new user interactions such as Glances and Force Push,” said TapSense Co-Founder and CTO Amit Manjhi. “Developing an app for the watch is the same as writing any iOS extension. We can’t wait to see all the cool apps that developers build and how they leverage the TapSense platform for Apple Watch.”
Glances is an Apple Watch feature that allows a user to access new information by swiping up on the watch face, while Force Push allows a user to open a menu by pressing down harder on the device’s pressure-sensitive screen. TapSense will also use the iPhone’s GPS to deliver hyper-local targeted ads, such as a coupon for a particular store that an Apple Watch owner walks into. This means that coupons or other retailer promotions could potentially be delivered right at the time of purchase.
Although TapSense originally claimed that its advertising platform would be able to directly integrate with Apple Pay, the company later clarified exactly how this process would operate. In order to instantly redeem a coupon from an Apple Watch ad, the coupon would have to feature a readable barcode that could be scanned at the time of purchase. Alternately, a user could push the ad to the Watch by first sending it to the Passbook app.
Of course, like any advertising service, TapSense will have to be selective about how and when it delivers promotional messages if it wants to keep consumers engaged without annoying them. Fortunately, the Apple Watch has several built-in restrictions that limit how advertising is delivered. For example, as noted by Reuters, advertisers will not have access to the device’s haptic communication features since those are limited to Apple’s native apps. Also, businesses will only be able to send promotions through apps that are already opened, in order to keep the advertising relevant to whatever the consumer is doing.
While it remains to be seen how advertising on the Apple Watch will ultimately be implemented by businesses, Apple will no doubt be keeping a close eye on this aspect of its wearable device, especially considering how much emphasis the company puts on the quality of the user experience. While timely coupons conveniently delivered to your wrist just ahead of a purchase might enhance the user experience, a constant stream of repetitive ads could make this service the Apple Watch’s least popular feature.
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