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IoT 2016: Brands Move From Smart Experiments To Seamless Experiences

Everything from smartwatches to ‘smart fridges’ should to be able to preempt a user’s next move, says JWT’s Creative Innovation Director.

As we enter 2016, omnichannel features are much more widely accepted and integrated — meaning that brands will have differentiate themselves by showing how well they can execute on ensuring that customers can discover and purchase store products any way they want.

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JWT’s Emma Chiu

As GeoMarketing’s own David Kaplan wrote on in a separate blog post for Yext [full disclosure: Yext is GeoMarketing’s parent company. More details here.], more companies will likely spend the coming year fashioning a leadership role around the idea of a “Chief Innovation Officer,” who will be charged with understanding the trends and tying together all the loose ends.

J. Walter Thompson’s Innovation Group focuses largely on helping the agency to forecast these types of shifts in brand and consumer behavior, recently releasing the “Future 100″ report spotlighting 100 trends for marketers to watch in 2016. Creative Innovation Director Emma Chiu talked to GeoMarketing about the increased emphasis on IoT — and how integrated storytelling is the key to getting past ad blocking.

GeoMarketing: You’re part of a newer entity at JWT. What does your role as Creative Innovation Director entail?

Emma Chiu: As Creative Innovation Director, I’m part of the Innovation Group within J. Walter Thompson. We take a deeper dive into the landscape of what’s happening in the changing market of consumer behavior — analyzing key statistics, talking to experts, and adapting based on what’s changing in the industry and how it will ultimately affect brand communication.

[The trend toward bringing on “Innovation Officers”] is something that’s happening outside of JWT, too; brands are identifying that they need to have more of a strategy innovation team, as well as special projects or innovation labs. For example, what Sephora has done: Their innovation lab was born nearly two years ago. It just happened very naturally, and now they have really interesting product and innovative products coming out today that are tailored to consumer’s [digital] lives.

One of the trends spotlighted as a part of JWT’s recent Future 100 report centered on brands further embracing IoT as a way to both interact with consumers and understand their behavior. We heard plenty of buzz calling 2015 “the year of wearables” due to the of the launch of the Apple Watch, but what does IoT really mean for retailers — and where are we in terms of adoption and evolution as we enter 2016?

I think [retailers] are looking at technology more and more as a way to open up communication — a personal dialogue — with consumers. Part of what [connected devices] can do is to actually make consumers’ lives more intuitive; it’s actually becoming something that seamlessly integrates into lifestyles. The goal right now is trying to converge all of this technology and bring it together to speak to each other in a more relevant way — and to make a more intuitive user experience for the consumer.

Basically, I think that absolutely all brands, large and small, need to start preempting and start thinking about this, and that’s something that we’re going to see a lot more of in 2016. It’s like a new language, a new way of speaking to a consumer, preempting their next move — whether it’s the smart fridge [which can remind you to buy milk] or a smartwatch alert when you walk in a store.

This has been the talk of the last two years — how you can preempt what someone will like or what they’ll be interested in. But as brands start to get it right, this kind of intuitive understanding can help with brand loyalty as well: If a consumer feels like a brand can speak to them and wholly understand them, then why would they need to look for a another retailer?

As consumers are living their lives with all of these devices, prioritizing cross-channel marketing strategy continues to be important. How does JWT approach creating a captivating visual campaign with rich creative while still making sure that they can target consumers across all of their devices? How do you tie that together?

Actually, this is interesting because it’s something that we’ve been talking about a lot lately. I think the key thing is to start with an understanding of which channels consumers are using and endorsing.

For example, an Instagram channel or a YouTube channel is something that we can use commercially and also that consumers would use for their own pleasure. For these channels, we focus on working out a seamless way for [the creative] not to feel like an ad — to keep it on a more storytelling level. It’s more about building a brand story around whatever it is you’re ultimately selling and connecting to the consumer that way via these social media channels — and that translates across mobile, tablet, desktop.

How does this tie into the need for brands to develop ways to “get around” ad blocking, a growing trend also discussed in the Future 100?

In thinking about the rise of ad blocking, brands really need to think of a way to keep the audience engaged. One way that the landscape of advertising is changing is that it’s not so much about the “hard sell” anymore. It’s a different way where you have to connect with an audience in a more intimate level, keep them engaged. Creating a very immersive 360 story around what you’re ultimately selling is what keeps people coming back, no matter what device they’re using.

About The Author
Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of GeoMarketing.com. A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.