With flagging sales since its much-publicised launch, the Apple Watch is causing a headache for many advertisers who are used to the reliability of Apple’s products. The key question is how they can grab consumers’ attention using such a tiny screen.
Despite these issues, the idea of promoting a brand through a wristwatch is still a beguiling prospect for most advertisers. The fact that most users will wear the Apple Watch for long periods of time and glance at it regularly offers a serious platform for promoting products. In addition a vast amount of data can be gleaned to analyse people’s habits and interests.
Cole Sletten, the creative director at digital ad agency Ready Set Rocket, said: “It’s a double-edged sword… it can provide a really compelling personal experience. But used poorly, it will absolutely turn people off.”
Most consumers tolerate ads as long as they are not too intrusive. In order to achieve the most convincing advertising approach, companies will need to steer clear of the overbearing pop-up display ads that are so often seen on other devices. However, some brands have managed to achieve success, including Starbucks, Starwood Hotels, and several airlines.
“Nobody’s really figured out how to do it yet,” Sletten said. “Right now, it feels like we’re all on this learning curve together.”
Some innovative approaches have tried to link the watch to shops as the user passes them physically. It could also be possible for the watch to connect directly to customer services if the user runs into a problem with a product.
Apple hasn’t released any firm sales figures, so it is difficult to analyse the potential benefits the device can offer to advertisers. Although Apple’s silence could indicate a pessimistic outlook, industry experts have pointed out that the first iPhone suffered poor sales early on.
According to Chia Chen, Digitas’ head of product and development, there is still hope. Chen said, “I think it’s going to be a little bit of a slow burn … Apple has the kind of resources where it can afford to sort of let it percolate.”