The Internet of Things (IoT) has reached a tipping point and is set for explosive growth, with Gartner forecasting there will be five billion connected devices by the end of 2015, and 25 billion – that’s three for every person on the planet – by the end of 2020. From plant pots that water themselves, to fridges that can monitor produce quantities, sell-by dates and offer advice, and re-ordering services to consumers – intelligent products designed for a multitude of purposes are emerging. 

This year has seen Apple, Huawei and LG launch smart watches and Amazon debut its Dash Button, but with IoT taking centre stage at this year’s global Consumer Electronics Show (CES), these devices with screens of all shapes and sizes are set to be just the first of many.

Suddenly, the opportunities and possibilities for advertisers are seemingly limitless. But is viewing each of these new screens as a ready-made platform on which to serve ads the right approach? What is technologically possible and what consumers actually want from the IOT is not necessarily the same thing. To achieve maximum engagement, advertisers need to ensure their campaigns are designed with the consumer mind-set as a priority.

So what exactly is it that consumers want from the IoT and how can advertisers capitalise on connected living?

Keep it simple

The concept of a connection between every device is not as straightforward as it may seem – research by Accenture shows that 83% of consumers experience issues when using their smart products, stating that they are too complicated to use. The challenge, therefore, is how to create simplistic connectivity through one central point, rather than multiple pieces of complex hardware that require maintenance and frequent updates.

While devices such as Amazon’s Dash Button – small plastic adhesives that allow you to order household products with the touch of a single, physical button – have taken a step towards bringing domestic appliances and interactive technology together, the system is still in its infancy.

Utility over gimmicks

Consumers want technology to be more than just ‘cool’ – it also needs to be useful. A recent study by Nielsen’s Affinnova group found that two-fifths of adults described the smart products they have encountered so far as ‘gimmicky’, and a further two-thirds (59%) said they would only commit to purchasing devices that provide real value.

Enabling consumers to control their thermostat remotely and monitoring user preferences to create an automatic, energy-efficient schedule, the Nest Thermostat is a great example of a highly valuable connected device.

The future of the IoT rests on ensuring smart tech is useful and that devices communicate with one another to ensure convenience for consumers, but a simplified approach doesn’t have to mean fewer opportunities for advertisers.

Advertising and the IoT

Always in hand, smartphones are the most efficient means of simplifying the IoT. By making them the hub from which all other devices operate, consumers will be provided with one single and accessible point of interaction.

Producing a steady flow of data insights into individual consumer habits, routines, and interests – a move towards centralising connectivity, will prove highly beneficial for advertisers.

Using lifestyle data, in combination with deterministic data, enables advertisers to push highly targeted offers to a very specific audience in real-time via a smartphone. Advertisers can utilise collated consumer data to serve relevant ads that are more likely to engage consumers and encourage conversions.

The IoT offers advertisers the chance to target a specific audience, anywhere, at any given time. Yet these opportunities must be handled with care – success will depend on simplicity and a considered approach to consumer needs and preferences. With relevance and value defined as clear priorities, advertisers must aim to do much more than just appear on the fridge door.