What Apple iOS 12 Means For Marketers — And Why Investing In Listings And AR May Be More Valuable Than Targeted Ads

Apple's WWDC was about more than MeMojis, as "Siri Shortcuts" has implications for the future of SEO as voice activated assistants steer users' queries to "preferred answers."

For most tech observers, Apple’s WWDC preview of iOS 12 was something of a snoozefest: no major design or product shakeups this year. But for marketers, there were a number of tweaks and steps forward that will have wider implications for how they reach consumers.

While cute attention-getting features like Animoji, personalized Memoji, and other camera affects for messaging may not mean much to brands, the ARKit 2.0 (Augmented Reality iOS Developers Toolkit) and Siri Shortcuts will mean something to brands who are looking to adopt immersive tech to entice consumers, as well as Siri Shortcuts, which expands Apple’s voice-activated Connected Intelligence features in its bid to catch up to Amazon’s Alexa and Okay Google.

A New AR Dimension For Retail

ARKit 2 enables developers to create the augmented reality-based apps for the that allow users and brands to integrate shared experiences. It also includes the ability to establish “persistent AR experiences” tied to a specific location, object detection and image tracking, “making AR apps even more dynamic,” Apple says.

The Object Detection feature recognizes features of the user’s environment and “use them to trigger the appearance of virtual content.” This can open up a whole new level for brands who are still struggling with the creative possibilities of AR.

For example, a retail app might add interactive 3D visualizations when the user points their device at a product, display, or department/area inside the store.

“There have been major advancements to take AR/VR from experimental to practical,” Sarah Martinez, VP & Industry Lead, Retail, at Verizon’s Oath, told us recently. “The key is to look for new technologies that bring consumers utility. But it doesn’t stop with AR; from vertical video with a full screen canvas to mobile wallet coupon integrations, new advancements provide consumers with simple and enhanced brand experiences… The best way for brands to distinguish between impactful advertising technologies and the buzzy gimmicks, is to look for that utility.”

Apple’s Kimberly Beverett shows what Siri Shortcuts can do

Siri’s Smart Shortcut

While traditional search, with its infinite number of “blue link answers” isn’t disappearing, the expectation of asking an intelligent virtual assistant for “one best response” to spoken queries for restaurant, product, and travel recommendations will make it more competitive for brands to become that “preferred answer.”

Secondly, Apple is going to make it even more difficult for advertisers to fingerprint its Safari browser users for retargeted ads. So as ad targeting becomes more attenuated, marketers will likely invest more in organic efforts such as listings, place/store pages, and reviews/reputation management.

While Siri was the original virtual assistant, it lagged as Alex and Google Assistant sprinted ahead in the years since Apple acquired and developed it. Even as Apple’s HomePod has gotten off to slow start as the response to Amazon’s Echo and Google Home “smart device” products, Apple hopes to take a literal shortcut that allows users to customize voice activated responses.

Apple’s promise for Siri Shortcuts is the ability to deliver a new, much faster way to get things done with the ability for any app to work with Siri.

“Siri intelligence can suggest an action at just the right time — whether it’s to order a coffee in the morning or start an afternoon workout,” Apple says. Users can customize Shortcuts by creating a simple voice command to kick off the task or download the new Shortcuts app to create a series of actions from different apps that can be carried out with a simple tap or customized voice command. It’s easy for developers to take advantage of this new capability using Shortcut APIs.

Siri Shortcuts portends the future of SEO as the ability to have a brand vie to become a preferred “shortcut” for users. Platforms that can help improve listings and reputation management will be in greater demand as brands look for ways to improve their chances of getting their apps and content recommended by Siri.

While this can be seen as as a replacement for IFTTT,  the value for a brand to be be part of a person’s routine based on their geo (leaving home or work) in response to a Siri command like “I’m leaving for work,” a brand that fits into a certain “trigger” like driving directions to a cafe or grocery store might do well to have an “Order Ahead with your usual” feature that can be embedded into Siri’s memory.

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.