The Internet of Things

By Tom O'Brien | February 9, 2015

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Tom O'Brien

Head of Business Development

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Tom O’Brien

Head of Business Development

Tom is FVM’s brand guardian. With global experience in editorial, PR, and marketing, he spends his days making sure people know who we are and what we’re capable of. When he isn’t guiding new business, promoting the agency, or making a cup of tea, he’s usually thinking about making another cup of tea.

Continents inhabited:2

Unrepentant loyalties:Liverpool FC #YNWA

Most requested skill:high shelf reaching

You can’t live without:Yorkshire Tea, KEXP, Friday night

Number of progeny:2

The Internet of Things. The buzzword that has replaced Big Data. Now widely known, but often misunderstood, the IoT is the idea that our lives are becoming exponentially more interconnected. It promises to transform daily life, serving as the impetus for new technological innovation, and ushering older devices into the digital age. Previously “dumb” technology like thermostats and refrigerators are now becoming enlightened, connecting even the most mundane aspects of our lives to the vast personal data network already occupied by devices like mobile phones, tablets, and wearable tech. Here’s a bit more info in a handy video summary from Intel:

In a recent study conducted by IDC, the market size for IoT solutions alone could reach $7.1 trillion dollars by 2020, compared to a 2013 estimate of $1.9 trillion. Some companies are forecasting even higher numbers (Cisco says $14.4 trillion) for the IoT’s total impact on economic growth.

Those staggering projections are based on disruption in just about every industry one could imagine. Many companies are already scrambling to get ahead of the curve and capitalize on smarter data grids of customer information and business automation. Major corporations like GE have set up entire divisions dedicated solely to figuring out how best to position themselves as leaders in this emerging market.

Internet of insight

Where the IoT promises to streamline every aspect of life for end users, the result for advertisers is a bumper crop of useable data that yields a wealth of information.

As more aspects of consumers’ lives become quantifiable, the less volatile and erratic these business processes become, presenting marketers with the mouthwatering prospect of knowing exactly where to focus their dollars, possibly on a granular level.

For B2Bs dealing with a considered purchase and long sales cycles, one chief benefit the IoT promises is better insight into customer behavior during various touch points in the lead-nurturing process. Instead of sending a cookie cutter follow-up email to a prospective buyer, advertisers will now have a wider menu of richer event-based options to reach the prospect’s pipeline. With more knowledge and choice, comes the opportunity to deliver more meaningful, targeted messaging. The IoT will not only impact high-level brand strategy, but how companies approach media planning as well.

Just look at the campaign Netflix launched in France, where digital billboards played animated GIFs reacting to local weather and other topical events. Imagine the remarketing value this could represent to a company like FedEx Small Business or when one these interactive ads is located just a few steps away from the entrance to the local post office.

Better connected

A major challenge, especially for B2B companies looking to capitalize on this rising trend, is that there are very few unifying platforms that link all of these internet-connected devices together. What good would it be for a manufacturer to provide its suppliers with real-time order management technology if each end user has a different, incompatible sales platform?

The usual suspects, such as the aforementioned Cisco and GE, as well as IBM, are all building products to bring these networks together. How quickly the IoT becomes a practical business investment will largely be determined by the ability of these massive networks to integrate products from small software and hardware manufacturers.

Walking a fine line

The IoT promises to bring 20th century things into the 21st century; linking them to an impossibly large grid of interconnected data and making daily chores more efficient.

Such a bevy of  data and user demographics will have the advertising world champing at the bit. The challenge will be that—on the inevitable march towards progress and innovation—marketers must find new and creative ways to deliver personalized messaging without being so invasive that the user opts out completely. The mantra is: “Be personal, not creepy. Remember Minority Report.”