With the recent announcement of the Apple Watch, consumers and marketers alike are abuzz at the possibilities this newest mobile device presents. At this point, with more than a month to go before it officially hits the shelves, its clear that the Apple Watch will impact advertisers – to what extent though, remains to be seen.
Here’s what we do know
The Apple Watch will be more accessible than the iPhone or iPad. Instead of being in your pocket or bag, the Watch will be in full sight on your wrist at all times. That means that the potential for engagement with this device is incredibly high, and that’s likely to make advertisers salivate. The Watch is also likely to be more acceptable, at least initially. Think of all those times you’ve been in an office meeting or similar setting and it would’ve been rude to pull out and use your phone. Glancing down at your watch will likely not have that same negative connotation.
Pricing for the Apple Watch will start at $349 for the most basic model, and go as high as $17,000. The majority of the models will fall within the $349 to $749 price range. While that might not seem like a lot compared to high-end watch brands like Rolex and Movado, it’s still a lot for the average consumer. As a result, the initial Apple Watch audience will not only be comprised of early adopters, but they will also likely be of higher value.
Unlike the iPhone or iPad, the Apple Watch will be completely reliant on native apps: mobile web won't be available, at least initially. And, in order to have an app for the Watch, you’ll need to have an app for the iPhone. Despite the fact that 87% of time spent on a mobile device is in-app, there are still many brands and companies that don’t yet have apps. This could be the final tipping point.
But, that remains to be seen, which brings us to the things that don’t seem as certain.
Here’s what we don’t know
This is where it really gets interesting for advertisers. Who’s going to do this, and do it right? Arguably, everyone should have an app extension for the Watch. But figuring out how to make engagement quick and easy while giving users a reason to keep coming back – all on only a 38 or 42mm screen – won’t be easy.
The biggest question though, is how advertisers will be able to market to watch users. For now, it doesn't seem like there will be a way to show ads directly on the Watch. But, since you’ll need an iPhone to use the Apple Watch, marketers could target Watch users on their phones. This could be done both for new user acquisition as well as retargeting, to get existing iPhone users to use your Watch extension.
Despite the lingering questions, I expect advertisers to be extremely interested—in particular, brands with a strong affinity to high-end consumers. While Apple isn’t the first to come out with a smartwatch, they seem to be the first to really get marketers buzzing about it.