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Apple Watch Will Beat iPhone For Mobile Wallet Marketers, Says Vibes

Suspecting a consumer trend on the horizon, the mobile marketing company has updated its Catapult Wallet Manager platform to support Apple Watch.

Mobile marketing platform Vibes has been named as an “official” Apple developer, paving the way for the company’s brand clients to send ads in the form of notifications within the iPhone and Apple Watch’s Passbook mobile wallet app.

Marketers that use Vibes’ Catapult Mobile Relationships Management platform will be able to send their messages via the virtual loyalty and coupon “cards” that Apple device users keep in Passbook.

Although the Apple Watch has been on the wrists of consumers who began pre-ordering the device in mid-April for barely a month, Vibes is already expressing confidence that the Apple Watch, and not the iPhone, will accelerate the growth of mobile wallets and related wearable-based payments.

After all, one of the chief selling points of the Apple Watch is that users won’t even have to be tethered to their iPhones in order for Apple Pay to work at a retailer’s checkout counter.

Vibes' Mark Tack
Vibes’ Mark Tack

The company’s clients are seeing significant redemption of mobile coupons via Passbook on the iPhone, says Mark Tack, Vibes’ VP of marketing. He adds that Vibes suspects it’s only a matter of time before Apple Watch owners start using Passbook on the Apple Watch as their main payment instrument.

In-Store Redemption Climbing

Pep Boys saw a 30 percent in-store redemption rate when consumers saved coupons in Passbook on their iPhone,” Tack says, adding that the Apple Watch, with its convenient and clear design, could be perceived as an even better home for Passbook and the branded items that are kept there.

The Apple Watch’s ability to sync up with a consumer’s location even when their phone is not actually on their person at the moment they’re at a retailer’s cash register could expand the possibilities of tying in point-of-sale marketing, direct response online advertising, and the ultimate enhancement of the in-store experience.

“What’s nice about Passbook in general is the location features,” Tack says. “Notifications and reminders may be triggered by your [latitude/longitude],” Tack says. “iBeacons also work great [with it.] Marketers can use our wallet manager platform and link ibeacon ideas to specific passbook [content], so that when consumer is walking past a sporting goods store, for instance, they can swipe to receive a discount.” 

Mobile Wallet Marketing Push

Vibes, whose platforms were integrated into Adobe’s marketing cloud software last March, has been getting a number of retailers and brands involved with Passbook since 2012, Tack says. The company has also been focused on evolving the specific, niche concept of “mobile wallet marketing,” which involves an updated, interactive version of the circular ads that were so much a part of national-to-local newspaper print advertising, as opposed to general “mobile marketing.”

As Tack sees it, Apple could revolutionize the advertising use cases of the Apple Watch, and significantly alter the idea of mobile as a category.

“Up until the Apple Watch, we thought of mobile as a smartphone, but Apple can transform this [idea],” Tack says. “They’ve done it with music, with tablets, with payments. In two to three years from now, the majority of consumers will have an Apple Watch and could be using that more in-store than they do their iPhone.”

Naturally, the Apple Watch is still far too new to have any hint of success metrics when it comes to in-store sales lift or visitation rates. But Tack is practically convinced that in the next “one or two quarters,” clear patterns will emerge.

In the meantime, Tack has issued a challenge to marketers: “How will you reach your consumers who will increasingly be using an Apple Watch to shop better?”